First time in 5 months, Delhi’s air may turn ‘very poor’ by Tuesday | delhi news | Hindustan Times
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First time in 5 months, Delhi’s air may turn ‘very poor’ by Tuesday

Delhi’s air quality, for the first time in five months, is on the verge of turning ‘very poor’ once again, raising health concerns among millions of people living in the national capital. The Graded Response Action Plan to tackle ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ categories of air pollution is scheduled to come into force in Delhi-NCR from Tuesday.

delhi Updated: Oct 14, 2017 23:57 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
air pollution,air quality,stubble burning
Delhi’s air quality, for the first time in five months, is on the verge of turning ‘very poor’.(Raj K Raj/HT file)

Delhi’s air quality, for the first time in five months, is on the verge of turning ‘very poor’ once again, raising health concerns among millions of people living in the national capital.

The Graded Response Action Plan to tackle ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ categories of air pollution is scheduled to come into force in Delhi-NCR from Tuesday.

The plan suggests a range of actions that needs to be adopted once air pollution turns ‘very poor’ in the city. This includes increasing parking fees by at least 3–4 times to discourage car owners from using their vehicles, ban on diesel generator sets and ban on using coal and firewood in hotels and eateries, among others.

Data available with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) revealed that the last time Delhi had to face such high levels of pollution was in May 2017, when the summer crop burning was going on.

In 2016, when air pollution had turned ‘severe,’ a category above ‘ very poor’, the government had introduced the Odd-Even car rationing scheme.

According to the National Air Quality Index maintained by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) pollution level is considered ‘very poor’ if the AQI is more than 301. It is considered ‘poor’ if it is between 201 and 300.

Even though the AQI of Delhi was below the 200 mark, which is considered as ‘moderate’ till Oct 6, it started deteriorating drastically over the past one week.

CPCB data showed that on Saturday 2 pm it touched the 300-mark. This means the air quality of Delhi is just one notch below the very poor category.

Prolonged exposure to such levels of air pollution could trigger respiratory problems, experts said.

“The reason is two-fold. While on one hand ground level activities are triggering heavy pollution, meteorological conditions are also not in favour of Delhi. Particulate matter – PM10 and PM2.5 – have shot up over the past few days. This is causing the air quality to deteriorate,” said D Saha head of the air quality laboratory at CPCB.

Hindustan Times had recetly reported that stubble burning – one of the primary sources of air pollution during this time of the year - was going on in full swing in Punjab and Haryana. Met officials said that the wind speeds has dropped to around 7kmph, which is not allowing the pollutants to get dispersed.

What is worse is that the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), maintained by the ministry of earth sciences, on Saturday predicted that the levels of both PM 2.5 and PM 10 could shoot up further over the next two days.

The level of PM2.5 has shot up from 74 on October 6 to 122 on Saturday. It is likely to increase to 125 over the next 48 hours. Similarly the level of PM10 has shot up to 215 on Saturday from around 142 on October 6. It is likely to shoot up to 219.