Delhi chokes as pollution rises again

  • Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 19, 2015 00:53 IST

If you faced breathing problems on Wednesday morning, it was primarily because of the rising air pollution that has rebounded in the Capital in the last few days.

The particulate matter (PM) pollution in Delhi crossed 400 unit grams in cubic meter of air (ug/m3) on Wednesday after hovering around 250 for the last 10 days or so.

The reason for the sudden spurt in air pollution was the cloudy weather that slowed down the disbursal of pollutants, resulting in toxicity in air remaining suspended for a longer time.

The PM pollution at Punjabi Bagh in west Delhi peaked at 396 ug/m3 at seven o’clock, about seven times the national standard. It fell to about 250 in the afternoon and again rose to about 300 in the evening.

Similarly, PM level in east Delhi’s Shahdara rose to over 357 ug/m3 in the morning with a slight dip in the afternoon and rising again in the evening.

The PM pollution was recorded more than double the national standard at several other locations in Delhi such as Sirifort in south Delhi, RK Puram in south-west Delhi and Bawana Road in north Delhi.

The level of ammonia was also high.

Near the Delhi government headquarters at ITO, where the Central Pollution Control Board monitors air quality for non-PM pollutants, the level of ammonia was as high as 184 ug/m3. High exposure to ammonia can lead to irritation in the eyes and can cause headache.

The capital’s air quality this winter had fallen to a new low since the year 2000 when cleaner fuel -- Compressed Natural Gas -- was introduced, resulting in a large population facing breathing ailments.

This winter Delhi’s air quality has constantly been worse that of Beijing, once considered the world most polluted city.

But the dirty tag was not been enough to wake the government from the slumber as no anti-PM pollution measures were put in place.

Even the promise of issuing advisories to people had not taken off as the Delhi Pollution Control Committee had not shared its pollution data with the Central Pollution Control Board, which had to issue the advisories.

The Delhi government is yet to announce measures to combat rising air pollution even though on Tuesday it allowed small industries to start without the mandatory pollution clearance, sending alarm bells ringing.

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