Odd-even likely to return if Delhi’s air quality continues to be severe plus, says EPCA
The Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) on Thursday wrote to the NCR states to gear up for another round of tough measures under the “emergency” category of the Graded Response Action Plan. The pollution control body’s warning comes in the backdrop of rising pollution levels in the National Capital Region.
In his letter to Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, EPCA chairman Bhure Lal, has also asked the states to intensify ground-level action to cut down local emissions to prevent another smog episode.
“EPCA is monitoring the air quality status in Delhi and the National Capital Region. Pollution level at present is in the category of severe plus. The concentration of both PM2.5 and PM10 is severe plus. We will be monitoring the situation for the next 48 hours. In the meantime take all precautionary measures as per GRAP immediately,” the letter, a copy of with is with Hindustan Times, says.
Under the Centre-notified Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), pollution is considered ‘severe plus’ or ‘emergency’ when readings of ultrafine particulates PM2.5 or PM10 are above 300 and 500 ug/m3 respectively. On Thursday, at 2pm, the PM2.5 readings touched 320.9 ug/m3, in the emergency levels, while the PM10 levels hovered around the 498 ug/m3 mark.
Measures listed under the emergency category are rolled out when the ‘severe plus’ conditions prevail for 48 hours at a stretch.
Thursday’s air quality index (AQI), according to the Central Pollution Control Board, was 469 which is ‘severe’ and substantially poorer than Wednesday’s 359, which was ‘very poor’. The AQI is calculated on a scale of 0-500.
If the EPCA notifies the emergency action plan, which was done when a seven-day smog cover enveloped the city in November this year, measures including a ban on entry of trucks, construction activities and rollout of the odd-even scheme have to be enforced in the city.
For a week, starting November 7, the air quality index in the city had touched “severe” levels this year. On November 9, it had reached the highest of the season, touching 486. On November 14, after a week of foul air, the AQI came down to 308.
Experts later said that a dust storm in the Gulf area was the main reason behind the weeklong smog in Delhi and adjoining areas.