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Avoid jogging, reduce car use, says pollution board as Delhi air gets toxic

As air quality worsens, suggestions by the Central Pollution Control Board include ban on civil construction in NCR.

delhi Updated: Oct 27, 2018 10:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi air quality,Delhi air pollution,Delhi November pollution
Delhi has been already reeling under ‘very poor’ air quality over the past three days and conditions are likely to deteriorate further over the weekend, CPCB’s forecasting system and SAFAR, which comes under the union ministry of earth sciences, has already said. (AP)

With the air quality in Delhi and its environs expected to deteriorate between November 1 and November 10, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has recommended that people avoid strenuous exercises, try to minimize their exposure to the toxic air, and cut down the use of private cars. The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority will now take a call based on CPCB’s recommendations and pass an order, likely on Saturday.

CPCB expects pollution in the area to be at its worst because of toxic fumes from stubble burning in parts of Punjab and Haryana that are expected to gush into Delhi.

Delhi has been already reeling under ‘very poor’ air quality over the past three days and conditions are likely to deteriorate further over the weekend, CPCB’s forecasting system and SAFAR, which comes under the union ministry of earth sciences, has already said.

“Between November 1 and 10 meteorological conditions may not be favourable for Delhi as a result of which air quality could deteriorate. Based on our past two years of experiences, the CPCB’s task force met on Friday and has recommended some preventive and proactive measures to EPCA,” said P Gargava, member secretary of the CPCB.

CPCB is the country’s apex pollution monitoring body.

BAD AIR DAYS
How November usually begins with a polluted spell
Recommended precautions
Avoid strenuous exercise, especially early in the morning. Walk slower
Avoid traffic intersections during rush hour or roads with heavy traffic
Close windows that face roads
Cut down on smoking, lighting incense sticks
Avoid using private cars for commuting

The recommendations include a ban on all civil construction and excavation activities in the entire National Capital Region between November 1 and 10; a closure of coal and biomass based industries (excluding thermal power plants and waste to energy plants) between November 4 and November 10; and an intensification of efforts by the traffic police and transport department to check visibly polluting vehicles and reduce traffic jams in Delhi.

“We are also requesting and recommending that the public minimize their exposure and cut down the use of private vehicles, particularly diesel vehicles, during the first ten days of November,” said Gargava. “We have not yet received the recommendations. EPCA will take the call once the task force’s recommendations reach the EPCA chairman’s office,” said Sunita Narain, member of EPCA.

Dr TK Joshi, who is the health expert of the CPCB task force, said: “Any form of strenuous exercise including jogging at more than 5 km per hour should be avoided during this period. People should also try to avoid other forms of pollution such as burning incense sticks and mosquito coils indoors.”

The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) value was already at 328 on Wednesday. On Thursday it shot up to 331 and on Friday it deteriorated further to 361. On a scale of 0 – 500, an AQI value between 301 and 400 indicates very poor air quality. A value beyond 401 indicates severe pollution.

“The primary pollutants in Delhi’s air – PM10 and PM2.5 – have also shot up alarmingly. At 7 pm on Friday, PM10 level shot up to 384ug/m3 which is 3.8 times above the safe limits of 100ug/m3. The ultrafine particles PM2.5 shot up to 198ug/m3, which was 3.3 times above the permissible limit of 60ug/m3. This is likely to shoot up further over the next two days as pollutants are not being dispersed because the present spell of unfavaourable weather conditions are unlikely to change,” said a CPCB official.

EPCA warned on Thursday that from November 1, the wind is expected to change its direction and blow from the west and northwest directions bringing in fumes and pollutants from stubble burning regions of Punjab and Haryana. “At present it is blowing from south east and east direction. But still at least 20% – 30% of the pollutants are coming from those two states. It will rise once the wind direction changes,” said a CPCB official.

In November 2016, the national capital saw high levels of pollution around Diwali and the worst smog in 17 years. In 2017, it was again engulfed in a thick haze as the air quality remained ‘severe’ for almost a week. The Air Quality Index (AQI) value had touched 486 on November 9, 2017. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal compared Delhi with a ‘gas chamber’ and schools shut down.

First Published: Oct 27, 2018 06:55 IST