20 areas under CPCB scanner this winter - 13 hotspots and seven areas with unpaved roads
Thirteen pollution hotspots, which were identified by the pollution monitoring agencies earlier this year, and seven other heavily polluted areas, recently identified by scientists from IIT-Delhi, where unpaved roads trigger heavy dust pollution, hold the key to tackling high pollution levels in Delhi this winter, the Central Pollution Control Board has said.
The CPCB has asked government agencies to identify and target all sources of pollution in the hotspots during winter while road-owning agencies such as the PWD and civic bodies have been asked to repair all unpaved roads in the seven areas before winter.
Narrowing the plan further, the agencies have been asked to concentrate their anti-pollution measures in an area of four square kilometre (2 km x 2 km) around each air quality monitoring station in the 13 hotspots.
Out of the seven areas that have been identified by IIT Delhi, three are in Delhi – Mayapuri, Wazirpur and Okhla, while four are in other NCR cities. The 13 hotspots were identified by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee based on annual emission levels.
“Dust from unpaved roads, movement of heavy vehicles and industrial emissions have been found to be pushing up pollution levels in these areas. Agencies have been asked to identify unpaved roads within an area of 5km x 5km around the monitoring stations in these seven areas and repair them on a priority basis,” said a senior official of the CPCB.
A series of measures have been introduced over the past three years to bring down pollution levels in the national capital - opening of the eastern and western peripheral expressways, shutting down of thermal power plants, crackdown on construction sites to control dust and increasing the city’s green cover have started showing results.
Delhiites have been breathing easy this year, with the national capital at present witnessing its cleanest air in the last eight years. According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the PM2.5 levels in Delhi dropped by 7.3% in 2018 when compared to 2017 and by 14.8% over 2016. Similarly reduction in PM10 levels in 2018 is 8.6% over 2017 and 16.5% over 2016.
“The bi-weekly action plans prepared by IIT Delhi and the simulations and projections show that if we can control pollution in these seven areas, it could bring down the overall pollution level in Delhi and NCR towns by three to five percent,” said another senior official.
Experts said that Delhi’s pollution levels are primarily dependent on ground level activities and meteorology. Controlling ground level actions could help to bring down the pollution.
“Pollution levels in Delhi-NCR depend primarily on ground-level human activities and meteorology. If we can check and control our ground level activities, much of the pollution can be brought down. Some measures have already been initiated and the results have started showing,” said D Saha, former head of the CPCB’s air quality laboratory.