The Delhi government has prepared an action plan to deal with the dense smog that has engulfed the Capital for more than a week now.
The government will take up the matter of paddy stubble burning, because of which Delhi’s skies are being filled with toxic smoke, with its neighbouring states. NASA satellite images have shown burning activity in Punjab and UP to remove paddy stubbles to prepare the fields for sowing of the wheat crop. The ban on such activity, however, is hardly enforced.
The government will also rope in IIT-Delhi to conduct a survey of the Capital’s air quality to prepare a road map on how to bring down air pollution.
When temperature dips, wind speed goes down but humidity remains high. As pollutants do not spread, there is a toxic build-up in the form of smog. The situation worsens when the smog stays as it traps emissions from vehicles and industries as well as particulate matter.
Since larger plans will take time, for now, the government has decided to move against smoke-billowing vehicles and leaf-burning practices in the Capital as well as agricultural fires in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.
“These decisions were taken at a meeting chaired by Bhure Lal, chairman of Supreme Court’s environmental pollution (prevention & control) control authority,” said a senior official.
Anumita Roy Choudhury of the Centre for Science and Environment, who was also part of the high-level meeting, said, “It was decided that the matter (of agriculture fires) will be taken up with the neighbouring states. On its part, Delhi will move against smoke-billowing vehicles and leaf-burning activities right now.”
“The modalities (to check fires) are being worked out. Delhi’s environment department may approach the Central pollution control board to get neighbouring states to act,” said a government official.
Pollution levels in Delhi have been going up since 2006. At places, it’s as high as eight times of the desirable limit.