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Thursday, Nov 14, 2019

Delhi’s 13 hot spots where air is always polluted. Do you live in one of them?

Choked PM and AQI levels at these hot spots usually remain high than other parts of Delhi; preventive measures bear no fruit.

delhi Updated: Nov 08, 2019 10:21 IST
Vatsala Shrangi and Soumya Pillai
Vatsala Shrangi and Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
File photo of an EDMC water tanker sprinkles water on NH-24  near Anand Vihar, in New Delhi.  Anand Vihar is among the 13 hot spots in Delhi where the air is noxious at most times of the day.
File photo of an EDMC water tanker sprinkles water on NH-24 near Anand Vihar, in New Delhi. Anand Vihar is among the 13 hot spots in Delhi where the air is noxious at most times of the day. (Raj K Raj/HT File )
         

In at least 13 neighbourhoods in the capital -- identified as Delhi’s pollution hot spots — the air is noxious at most times of the day while monitoring stations often show ‘deep red’.

Despite specific action plans and intensive patrolling by pollution control agencies, the quality of air has not shown any substantial improvement in these areas.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified the 13 hot spots -- Rohini, Dwarka, Okhla Phase II, Punjabi Bagh, Anand Vihar, Vivek Vihar, Wazirpur, Jahangirpuri, RK Puram, Bawana, Narela, Mundka and Mayapuri -- based on the high particulate matter (PM) concentration in these areas on a long term.

The Supreme Court had on Wednesday asked Delhi chief secretary Vijay Kumar Dev to fix these 13 identified hots pots within a week.

“If you do not solve it in seven days then you are out,” the SC had said in a notice marked to the CS. The court said it won’t allow “inaction” by the authorities to play with the lives of the people. The court rapped the city government for failing to deal with road dust, construction demolition and garbage-dumping activities.

In October, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had designed a time-bound plan to check a spike in particulate matter (PM) levels in these areas.

But pollution levels at these spots at any given time are higher than the overall average air quality index of Delhi for a number of factors, including emission from industries, waste burning, dust suspension from dumping of construction debris and unpaved roads, among others.

 

PM 2.5 usually higher at these places round the year

The concentration of PM 2.5 levels -- the most harmful aerosols in Delhi’s air --- has remained on the higher side in these areas, even on days when the city’s average PM 2.5 level is lower. The concentration is high despite intensive night patrolling and a crackdown on violators in these 13 hot spots since October 7.

Sample this. At Dwarka Sector 8,PM 2.5 levels on pre-Diwali days ranged from 130ug/m3 to 145ug/m3. It spiked to 274 ug/m3 day after Diwali (October 28) and further to 299ug/m3 on October 29. It fell marginally on October 31, shows Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.

The accepted standard of PM 2.5 is below 60ug/mg3.

 AQI usually stays  higher

Similarly, the average air quality at these hot spots is always greater Delhi’s average AQI.

As per CPCB’s 4 pm bulletin, the 24-hour average AQI for the city on Thursday was 309. But the average AQI at most of the hots pots was much higher -- Anand Vihar (351), Bawana (351), Dwarka (339) and Wazirpur (353).

The pollution watchdog had identified the 13 hot spots after the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had flagged blatant violations of green norms in these areas. After EPCA’s directions, DPCC came up with specific action plans to deal with polluting activities in each of these spots.

On November 1, in Bawana, Anand Vihar, Punjabi Bagh and Mundka, the AQI touched the ceiling of 500— the last level of pollution, beyond which measurements cannot not be taken. As per CPCB data, on the same day, PM 2.5 concentration shot up to 10 times the permissible limit in Dwarka, Bawana, Anand Vihar and Wazirpur.

“There has been a marked improvement at the hot spots from before. Incidents of burning of plastic, rubber and other waste, which till last year were reported every other day, have subsided. We have started taking additional preventive measure,” said a senior DPCC official, who refused to be quoted.

The three municipal corporations are identifying sites where construction debris is being found illegally dumped at night. The South Delhi Municipal Corporation on Thursday suspended three officers for “not performing their duties responsibly in and around Okhla”.