CPCB divides Delhi into 4 zones to focus better on anti-pollution war
In nine of the 13 pollution hot spots, PM 2.5 (particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometres) levels in February increased compared to the same period last year. The levels of PM10 (particulate matter with diameter less than 10 micrometres) were higher in six hot spots that month, as compared to last year, CPCB data showed.Updated: Oct 17, 2020, 01:23 IST
A majority of Delhi’s 13 bad air hot spots saw a spike in PM2.5 levels in February this year, as compared to the same period in 2019, the Central Pollution Control Board said on Friday, even as they announced that the city would be divided city into four zones to allow more focussed and specifically tailored anti-pollution efforts.
In nine of the 13 pollution hot spots, PM 2.5 (particulate matter with diameter less than 2.5 micrometres) levels in February increased compared to the same period last year. The levels of PM10 (particulate matter with diameter less than 10 micrometres) were higher in six hot spots that month, as compared to last year, CPCB data showed.
Keeping this mind, as well as the rising pollution levels in Delhi and rest of the National Capital Region, senior officials of the anti-pollution body said the city will be categorised into four quadrants—clean, moderate, polluted and critical.
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This cluster approach — a part of CPCB’s winter emergency plan — will help agencies monitor areas and pass on information to enforcement teams to focus action, the officials said, adding the division was made based on pollution levels recorded in each area.
Speaking about the February spike in PM levels recorded this year, Prashant Gargava, CPCB member secretary, said it was observed that while all resources were focused on controlling the pollution spike in the winter months, especially in December and January when plunge in air quality is most severe, this effort was not consistent.
Gargava said this was possibly due to lax on-ground monitoring after the peak winter months.
Dwarka saw PM 2.5 levels spike by 44%, while the surge was between 11-14% in Mundka, Narela and Rohini. Six areas, including Bawana, Dwarka, Jahangirpuri, Mundka, Rohini, saw PM10 levels rise between 1-17%.
Gargava said CPCB teams will continue monitoring efforts till end of February to ensure such a situation does not recur this season.
“We have directed state governments to ensure their enforcement teams are also constantly monitoring the ground situation till February-end. Long-term plans are necessary and we will require the cooperation of all agencies as well as the people of Delhi to curb the levels this year,” Gargava said.
In response, Delhi’s environment minister Gopal Rai said that the government has been working around the year to control pollution levels.
“Apart from improving enforcement on the ground, our government has come up with long-term policies, which will help keep pollution levels in check through the year. Our initiatives such as the tree transplantation policy, electric vehicle policy, etc., will go a long way to help bring down pollution levels in the city,” Rai said.
Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), agreed that consistent enforcement is needed to ensure good air quality in Delhi, especially in the 13 hot spots where the pollution levels are higher.
“The action needs to be consistent and not just focused during winter months. Compared to January, February is generally warmer with more favourable weather conditions so with stricter action there can be a lot of reduction in the levels,” Roychowdhury.
Meanwhile, officials said dividing the city into zones would help focus attention on those areas, depending on the dominant source of pollution in each.
CPCB officials explained that the monthly pollution values of all the monitoring stations will be collected and areas will be divided based on the pollution load and the ration between PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels there.
Officials said these zones would be dynamic, and areas will be moved after regular reviews.
While the pollution load will give a sense of the how much the pollution levels are rising, the ratio between PM 2.5 and PM 10 will help the agency ascertain which source of pollution is acting up every month.
For instance, if the ratio shows a higher level of PM 2.5, contribution of smoke from sources such as open burning and vehicular emissions is likely to be more. If the PM 10 is on the higher side, then dust sources are to be targeted during enforcement.
“We had put this approach on trial last year and had shared our findings with the municipal agencies for better enforcement. This is the first time we are sharing our recordings and this year we are expecting that the result of such a targeted approach will be better,” a senior official said.
According to the division, nine areas — Jahangirpuri, Bawana, Narela, Mathura Road, Anand Vihar etc—have been categorised in the ‘polluted quadrant’, where extensive efforts will be made to control the primary polluting source, dust. The ‘moderate quadrant’ has three areas, Sri Aurobindo Marg, IGI Airport and Pusa, where open burning and vehicular pollution was found to be the primary pollution contributors.
Twenty-four areas have been put under the ‘clean quadrant’, where dust is the primary pollutant. There are no areas under the ‘critical quadrant’ yet, but officials warned that this could change depending on the change in pollution levels.