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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Air quality in Delhi better than 2014, but pollution still above limits, reveal data

Delhi’s pollution levels are at least three to four times above the permissible limits throughout the year despite a 14% drop in pollution since 2014, revealed data presented in the Outcome Budget 2018-19.

delhi Updated: Feb 26, 2019 07:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
New Delhi
Data also stated that while at least 62% of the schemes and programmes undertaken by the environment department are on track, 27% were off-track.
Data also stated that while at least 62% of the schemes and programmes undertaken by the environment department are on track, 27% were off-track. (Picture for representation)
         

Delhi’s pollution levels are at least three to four times above the permissible limits throughout the year despite a 14% drop in pollution since 2014, revealed data presented in the Outcome Budget 2018-19.

It also stated that while at least 62% of the schemes and programmes undertaken by the environment department are on track, 27% were off-track.

While the government has already met the targets set to provide subsidy for battery-operated two-wheelers, it is close to meet the targets of providing subsidy to battery-operated four wheelers, deploying adequate number of air marshals, setting up eco-clubs in schools and colleges and providing financial aid to resident welfare associations (RWAs) for development and maintenance of parks and gardens.

Experts said such prolonged exposure to high levels of pollution could be bad even for a healthy person as it could not just trigger a range of diseases but could also reduce one’s life expectancy, recent studies have shown.

“Coordinated efforts have led to a significant drop in pollution levels in the past five years. But the pollution levels are still very high if we take the annual mean concentration,” a senior official of the state environment department said. According to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the annual permissible limit for PM10 is 60ug/m3 and the limit for PM2.5 is 40ug/m3. The annual permissible limits prescribed by the World Health Organization are even lower — PM10 is 20ug/m3, for PM2.5 the limit is 10ug/m3.

This means concentration of pollutants in Delhi’s air is hovering at least three–four times above the Indian standards throughout the year. If the world standards are considered, then it is at least 12–13 times higher than the permissible limits.

“This is a matter of concern because apart from patients, the elderly and infants who are always at a higher risk, even healthy individuals on being exposed to such high levels of pollution for such prolonged period could develop a range of ailments,” said TK Joshi, environmental health adviser to the Union environment ministry.

Deaths linked to breathing disorders shot up by 40% in 2016 from 2015 — 6,502 to 9,149 — the highest jump from the previous year since 2010. From 2009 to 2010, the number of deaths linked to respiratory problems had gone up from 5,328 to 7,525 — an increase of 41%. Incidentally, both 2016 and 2010 had seen a sharp rise in dust pollution, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board.

A study by researchers from IIT Delhi and TERI in 2018 showed that the average level of PM2.5 — the pollutants that can penetrate deep inside the lungs — in Delhi remained more than two times above the annual permissible limits.

Experts also pointed out that even though there has been a drop in pollution levels between 2014 and 2016 the levels have almost become stagnated and refused to come down over the past two years, despite the implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan. “The annual mean concentration of PM10 and PM2.5 has revealed that the pollution levels have stabilized. But a lot more would have to be done now to reduce the level. The focus should now be more on implementation of the Comprehensive Action Plan which targets to bring in systemic changes rather than the Graded Response Action Plan,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, executive director (Research and Advocacy) at Centre for Science and Environment

First Published: Feb 26, 2019 02:16 IST

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