Gurugram air worst in country as construction ban comes into play
City’s air, on Wednesday, was the most polluted in the country at 416 on the Air Quality Index (AQI), putting it in the ‘severe’ category. It was the second consecutive day that Gurugram’s air was categorised as ‘severe’ after Tuesday’s AQI of 426, and the first time this season that Gurugram was the only Indian city with ‘severe’ air.
Haryana State Pollution Control Board regional officer JB Sharma attributed the severity of pollution to rampant construction activity, slated to be banned for the next 10 days starting today.
“All construction activity will be banned from Thursday till November 10, in anticipation of Diwali, which typically causes AQI value in the National Capital Region (NCR) to skyrocket. Both, the HSPCB and the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram, will be enforcing the ban,” Sharma said.
The level of PM2.5, Gurugram’s primary air pollutant, dropped slightly to 453ug/m3 on Wednesday from Tuesday’s reading of 500ug/m3. According to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the daily average safe measure of PM2.5 is 60ug/m3.
“An increase in temperature and clear skies helped air quality improve across the NCR on Wednesday,” said a senior member of the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) air quality lab, requesting anonymity. Daytime temperature on Wednesday increased by one degree to 31.1 degrees Celsius.
Air quality improved across major NCR cities of Delhi, Faridabad and Ghaziabad on Wednesday entering the ‘very poor’ category from Tuesday’s ‘severe’.
Sachin Panwar, an air quality scientist who has been closely measuring pollution in the city, said clear skies on Wednesday had allowed heat to penetrate through the atmosphere, warming the air and drawing suspended particulate matter upwards. Panwar also said that Wednesday’s air may not be as bad as official data lets on.
“The AQI reading of 416 is based on information captured by the city’s only air quality monitor at Vikas Sadan, which is located extremely close to a highway. Therefore, the air in its catchment area is worse than in other places,” he said, adding that air quality in Gurugram improved progressively through the day. By late afternoon, PM2.5 levels had dropped to 387ug/m3, according to the National Air Quality Index web app.
On Wednesday, MCG commissioner Yashpal Yadav announced the formation of 12 teams that will be responsible for enforcing the ban on construction in the district’s four zones. Each team will have up to eight members, consisting of junior engineers, assistant engineers and senior town planners, who will inspect areas ensuring that all construction activity has been halted.
The teams will also check open burning of waste and unauthorised dumping of construction debris, which is a major source of PM2.5.
“Violators will be booked under sections 269 and 278 of the Indian Penal Code, under the National Green Tribunal Act, and the construction site in question will be sealed,” Yadav said.
Other measures to curb air pollution in the city already in place, in keeping with the Graded Response Action Plan for ‘severe’ air quality. These measures include water sprinkling and mechanised sweeping of roads, which Yadav said is being carried out by street-sweeping machines, municipal tankers and fire trucks.
MCG chief engineer ND Vashisht said the civic body was also picking up abandoned construction waste from around the city and issuing challans for open waste burning.