Delhi economic survey: No. of better air quality days go up but Yamuna stays polluted | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times

Delhi economic survey: No. of better air quality days go up but Yamuna stays polluted

Mar 02, 2024 07:38 AM IST

Delhi sees improvement in air quality with more "good" air days, but Yamuna water quality remains poor. Efforts include afforestation and sewage treatment upgrades.

The Delhi government in the latest Economic Survey has said concerted efforts to tackle air pollution were yielding positive results, with the number of “good”, “moderate” and “satisfactory” air days on the rise in Delhi. Delhi recorded 206 such days in 2023, between January and December, which is up from 158 such days in 2018, the survey said on Friday.

The survey, referring to a CPCB report, said the biological oxygen demand levels and dissolved oxygen levels were only being met at Palla and Wazirabad. (AFP)
The survey, referring to a CPCB report, said the biological oxygen demand levels and dissolved oxygen levels were only being met at Palla and Wazirabad. (AFP)

On the other hand, Yamuna’s water quality continues to remain poor, meeting the primary water quality criteria for outdoor bathing only at Palla and Wazirabad, the survey said. It said this was largely down to over 200 million gallons per day (MGD) of sewage still entering the river, for which sewage treatment plants (STPs) were being upgraded in the Capital.

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The survey, referring to a Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report dated December 16, 2023, said the biological oxygen demand (BOD) levels of 3 mg/l or less and dissolved oxygen (DO) levels of 5 mg/l or higher — both required for sustaining aquatic life — were only being met at Palla and Wazirabad, adding that the water quality deteriorates significantly after that.

“The DO is nil at four locations — downstream of Wazirabad and at five locations namely ISBT, ITO, Nizamuddin, Okhla and Asagarpur, the water quality did not meet BOD and faecal coliform norms. The reasons for deterioration of water quality of Yamuna downstream of Wazirabad is due to non-availability of fresh water and discharge of partially treated wastewater from the drains out falling into river Yamuna,” said the survey, adding that 10 cumecs of water is released by Haryana by Hathanikund during the lean season, but most of it evaporates or percolates before reaching Wazirabad.

Referring to an improvement in the air quality, the survey said the government has been carrying out greening drives across the city each year, with around 7.4 million saplings planted till December. This was around 78% of the target set for plantation, which was 9.54 million. The government has also distributed 736,000 saplings free of cost, around 105% of the 700,000 target that was set for the year. Overall, there is a plan to complete the plantation of 10 million saplings this year, it said.

“A third party audit of plantation done by the department of forest has revealed that the survival percentage of plantation is around 78%,” said the survey, adding that Delhi’s overall green cover stood at 23.06%, which was up from 21.88% of the total area in 2019.

Meanwhile, the Delhi Parks and Gardens Society (DPGS), which also comes under the Delhi government and maintains parks and gardens in the Capital provided financial assistance and helped RWAs and NGOs maintain 1,404 parks, covering a total area of 403.6 acres. The figure was 1,877 parks in 2022-23, covering an area of 540 acres.

Air quality data showed Delhi’s annual PM2.5 levels stood at 106 µg/m3, which was marginally up from 2022 when it was 103µg/m3. It was 127µg/m3 in 2018. The PM10 concentration stood at 219µg/m3 in 2023, 223µg/m3 in 2022 and 277µg/m3 in 2018.

The survey listed several steps taken by the government, which is likely to be helping Delhi’s air quality. This includes a thrust towards afforestation, the installation of anti-smog guns at construction sites, the promotion and use of a bio-decomposer to manage stubble locally and the closure of thermal power plants.

The survey, tabled by finance minister Atishi added that Online Monitoring Systems (OMS) for measuring the concentration of ammonia in the Yamuna had been installed by the Delhi Pollution Control Board, which will help in issuing early alerts to the Delhi Jal Board regarding deterioration in water quality. Water treatment at plants is halted when ammonia levels become too high.

The latest sewage treatment data shared showed that Delhi was generating 792 MGD of sewage at present, but it was only able to treat 565 MGD at the 37 existing sewage treatment plants, leaving a gap of 227 MGD.

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