Air quality at 13 pollution hotspots has improved, shows data shared by Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai

Published on Feb 20, 2020 10:58 PM IST
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HT Image

New Delhi: Air pollution at 13 major hotspots in the national capital in 2019 came down “significantly” as compared to 2018, as per data shared by Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai on Thursday. He also released a five-point action plan to bring air pollution down by one-third in the next five years.

Rai’s plan include induction of real-time data to identify sources , an experts’ roundtable, a citywide awareness drive and planting 2 crore trees in the next five years.

As per the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data shared by Rai, while the average annual PM 2.5 concentrations reduced between 6% and 21% at the hotspots, the annual PM10 levels came down ranging 5% to 24%. The annual average permissible limits for PM 2.5 and PM 10 are 40ug/m3 and 60ug/m3, respectively.

The government had identified 13 hotspots of pollution in the city for targeted interventions last years. They are: Anand Vihar, RK Puram, Jahangirpuri, Narela, Ashok Vihar, Dwarka, Rohini, Punjabi Bagh, Bawana, Okhla, Wazirpur, Mundka and Vivek Vihar.

According to the data, the highest reduction in levels of PM 2.5 – the most harmful aerosols in Delhi’s air --- was found at Jahangirpuri (21%) followed by Narela (19.4%), Mundka (18.8%) and Anand Vihar (16.4%).

“Over the past five years, pollution has come down by 25%. The overall annual levels of PM 2.5 and PM10 also improved since 2014. Besides, in 2019 the number of good air days has increased to 61 from 46 in 2017 while the number of poor and severe days reduced to 80 from 97,” said Rai.

The environment minister attributed the improvement in air quality to various measures taken by the government and the multiple agencies, including the odd-even road rationing scheme, increase in the green cover on key stretches, and 24x7 power supply that helped reduced the use of diesel generators (DGs). Rai also appreciated the Central government for opening Western and Eastern peripheral roads, saying the ring roads around the city have stopped the entry of undestined traffic into the city, which would otherwise contribute to pollution levels.

Highlighting the agenda for the next few days, Rai said that he will meet a host of experts next week to chalk out an action plan to combat air pollution. “One of the most crucial aspects is to know the source of pollution. We should have real-time data to know the exact sources of pollution. We cannot depend on old studies for that,” the minister said.

The Washington University, which has been engaged by the government to provide real-time data on sources of pollution throughout the year, will submit its final report next month. “We will plan actions based on the data,” he added.

He said the government will launch a mass awareness campaign across the city. A roundtable conference --- Paryavaran Sammelan --- will be held at the Delhi Secretariat on February 27, he said. “Experts from various fields and NGOs will be invited to the day-long conference. We will also incorporate their suggestions into the action plan,” Rai said.

On February 28, a joint coordination meeting of all agencies, including MCDs, PWD, DDA and RWAs, will be held to discuss planting 40 lakh trees in the city every year to achieve the target of 2 crore trees in the next five years. Rai also talked about having a joint body of all agencies involved in anti-pollution activities to coordinate their efforts.

He also said that the Delhi government will meet Haryana, UP and Punjab officials next month and discuss measures to curb pollution of air and the Yamuna.

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