Vehicles ply at Vijay Chowk amid low visibility due to smog, in New Delhi.(PTI)
Vehicles ply at Vijay Chowk amid low visibility due to smog, in New Delhi.(PTI)

Delhi NCR in a chokehold of its own emissions

The 24-hour air quality index in Delhi was 413 according to the 4pm bulletin by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and the concentration of fine PM10 particles and ultra-fine PM2.5 particles were close breaching the emergency thresholds.
By Vatsala Shrangi and Soumya Pillai | Hindustan Times, New Delhi:
UPDATED ON NOV 26, 2020 01:02 AM IST

The air quality in the National Capital Region plunged back into the “severe” pollution zone and inched towards emergency levels on Wednesday, shrouding the region in a haze of its own emissions that have now been trapped by a cocktail of metrological factors: low winds, a blanket of clouds, and cold temperatures.

The 24-hour air quality index in Delhi was 413 according to the 4pm bulletin by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), and the concentration of fine PM10 particles and ultra-fine PM2.5 particles were close breaching the emergency thresholds. The deterioration comes after a brief respite from an early November spell of pollution largely caused by farm fires in Punjab and Haryana.

Weather agency officials said the problem now is because local emissions – tailpipe gases, road dust, smoke from garbage burning and industrial emissions – are not being blown away by wind. It is made worse by cloud cover, which drives up moisture and reduces the room for pollutants to lift higher into the sky.

“Both mixing height and ventilation index are very low now, which leads to accumulation of pollutants very close to the surface. This is mainly due to lack of winds which would otherwise disperse these pollutants,” said VK Soni, senior scientist at IMD.

Experts also saw this as a reminder of how much of the problem that Capital itself is responsible for.

“Today (Wednesday) a fire raged on at the Ghazipur landfill, that too on a day when pollution levels were already in the critical levels. It is such instances that we need to control. Can we say that there are no garbage fires happening in Delhi now? Or no vehicular emissions or we have been able to control road dust completely,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director (research and advocacy), Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Also Read | Delhi’s air quality worsens, temperature to rise over next couple of days

Roychowdhury added that Delhi’s air quality also depends on the polluting sources in the NCR towns such as Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Faridabad and Noida -- they recorded AQIs of 444, 299, 348, 414 respectively.

Delhi largely goes through several cycles of bad air days in winter, which relent only when the region has favourable weather conditions. After the October-end, early-November peak seen every year for at least the past decade, the second peak arrives sometime in December. This year, however, it seems to have happened sooner than usual.

A 2019 analysis by Council on Energy, Environment and Water showed tailpipe emissions from vehicles contribute as much as 39.2% of the city’s PM 2.5 levels. Roadsides dust adds up to 37.8% to this. In PM10 levels (particulate matter with diameter less than 10 micrometres), the contribution of road dust goes up to 65.9%.

Delhi does not have an emissions inventory showing contribution of local sources to overall pollution levels on a daily basis – the above numbers reflect how it is typically in winter. Experts point out that addressing these is crucial for a long-term solution.

“If local emissions are reduced by a large fraction (at least by 25%-30%), the peak in pollution levels reaching in the ‘severe’ zone could definitely be lowered to ‘very poor’ and even ‘poor’ levels. While the number of ‘severe’ days recorded during winter has come down over the past few years, specific action and long-term planning is required,” said Sagnik Dey, associate professor, Centre for Atmospheric Sciences, IIT-Delhi.

Dey also said emissions from the neighbouring regions including Gurugram, Faridabad and Ghaziabad are a problem for the Capital. “Gurugram and Faridabad are upwind of Delhi, the emissions directly have an impact on the city’s air. Besides, a number of industries, both conforming and not conforming to regulations, are located at Delhi’s border and in areas such as Ghaziabad, which also contribute to pollution in the capital,” said Dey.

According to Union government’s air quality forecasting wing, the share of farm fires in Delhi’s pollution levels was as low as 2% (the number of fire counts was 63.

Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai, however, said most of the problem is still due to farm fires that neighbouring states need to address. “Even over the last fortnight, when Delhi’s air quality started deteriorating, the contribution of stubble fires was high. This can be clearly seen through the satellite images of NASA,” said Rai.

MM Kutty, the chairperson of the newly-formed Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas, said long-term solutions are being worked upon.

“We have a forward looking approach. We are working on identifying long term solutions to this problem (stubble burning). A workable solution will be attempted by the Commission in consultation with all stakeholders so that the problem does not arise in future. Now stubble burning is over. We are also trying to establish the wherewithal to implement various measures to control spike in winter pollution. CPCB should continue to do its job,” said Kutty.

A senior official in the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) said action on hot spots is being taken. “The patrolling teams have been issuing fines wherever garbage burning has been observed. Besides, all efforts are being taken to prevent dust emissions,” the official said.

Soni said slight improvement is likely in air quality from Thursday onwards when light rain is expected and the wind speed is predicted to pick up to 10-12kmph. “The air quality is expected to improve tomorrow onwards. Also, no major deterioration is likely till November 30. It will remain in the lower end of ‘very poor’ to ‘poor’ zone,” he said.

But even these few days of severe air quality can be more dangerous than typical years. Exposure to high levels of pollution has been linked to an increase in the likelihood that a person can develop a serious grade of Covid-19, raising the risk of fatalities.

Over the next few days, people should expect winter to take hold more strongly. “Due to likely fall in minimum temperatures over northwest India, cold wave condition is expected to prevail at isolated places over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, north Rajasthan and west Uttar Pradesh between November 27 and November 29,” the India Meteorological Department said on Wednesday.

The minimum temperatures in Delhi on November 23 dipped to 6.3 degree Celsius, lowest for the month in the last 17 years.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
Farmers ahead of their tractor rally on Republic Day, at Tikri border in Delhi on January 25. (ANI)(HT_PRINT)
Farmers ahead of their tractor rally on Republic Day, at Tikri border in Delhi on January 25. (ANI)(HT_PRINT)

Farmers' tractors ready with tricolour for rally after R-Day parade in Delhi

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 09:03 AM IST
To ensure the tractor parade remains peaceful, farmers have formed groups to look after security.
Close
This year's Republic Day presents an unprecedented challenge for the Capital's police force.(PTI)
This year's Republic Day presents an unprecedented challenge for the Capital's police force.(PTI)

News updates from Hindustan Times: 5-layer security cover in Delhi on R-Day

By hindustantimes.com
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:54 AM IST
Here are today’s top news, analysis and opinion at 9am. Know all about the latest news and other news updates from Hindustan Times.
Close
Farmers gather to take part in a tractor rally to protest against farm laws on the occasion of Republic Day at Singhu border near Delhi.(Reuters Photo )
Farmers gather to take part in a tractor rally to protest against farm laws on the occasion of Republic Day at Singhu border near Delhi.(Reuters Photo )

Farmers tractor live updates: Protesters at Singhu border begin march to Delhi

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kanishka Sarkar
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:57 AM IST
The protesters who were camping at Delhi’s Singhu border have begun their march into the Capital. Follow live updates here
This year's Republic Day presents an unprecedented challenge for the Capital's police force. (PTI)
This year's Republic Day presents an unprecedented challenge for the Capital's police force. (PTI)

Facial recognition systems, 5-layer cover for Republic Day Parade, tractor march

Written by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:43 AM IST
The systems have a database of 50,000 suspected terrorists, criminals and anti-social elements and have been set up at 30 spots on Rajpath.
Close
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wished the country on its 72nd Republic Day on Tuesday. (PTI)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal wished the country on its 72nd Republic Day on Tuesday. (PTI)

On Republic Day, Arvind Kejriwal salutes real heroes of the country

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:17 AM IST
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader also mentioned sanitisation workers and the brave soldiers of the country on India's 72nd Republic Day on Tuesday.
Close
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. (HT file)
Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. (HT file)

Ram temple construction: VHP team expected to meet Delhi CM this week

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 08:14 AM IST
On Monday, a delegation met the L-G of Delhi, Anil Baijal, who contributed 1 lakh for the temple construction
Close
Security personnel keep vigil at Rajpath on the eve of the Republic Day parade, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo )
Security personnel keep vigil at Rajpath on the eve of the Republic Day parade, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo )

Republic Day 2021: Where, when to watch the parade

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 07:43 AM IST
Republic Day Parade 2021 live stream and telecast will begin at 9am on all TV channels of Doordarshan.
Close
Google celebrates 'Unity in diversity' in today's doodle.
Google celebrates 'Unity in diversity' in today's doodle.

Selfie, sitar, cricket: Google celebrates R-Day with Mumbai artist's doodle

Written by Poulomi Ghosh
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 07:48 AM IST
Today's Goggle doodle, illustrated by Mumbai's Onkar Fondekar, sums up India, its unity in diversity and vibrant culture.
Close
Entry of general people has been banned and only the invited guests will be allowed to be present.(PTI)
Entry of general people has been banned and only the invited guests will be allowed to be present.(PTI)

'Jai Hind': PM Modi greets nation on 72nd Republic Day

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Susmita Pakrasi
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 07:26 AM IST
  • Only around 25,000 spectators will be allowed to witness the parade as compared to the average of 1.15 lakh people every year.
Close
A vehicle cleans Rajpath on the eve of Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.(AFP)
A vehicle cleans Rajpath on the eve of Republic Day celebrations in New Delhi.(AFP)

Live Updates: Security increased across country on 72nd Republic Day

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Susmita Pakrasi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 26, 2021 09:06 AM IST
  • Republic Day 2021 Live Updates: The Republic Day Parade ceremony will commence with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial.
India’s military might, cultural diversity, social and economic progress will be on display during the 72nd Republic Day celebrations.(ANI)
India’s military might, cultural diversity, social and economic progress will be on display during the 72nd Republic Day celebrations.(ANI)

With many firsts, India’s military might, cultural diversity on display on R-Day

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Susmita Pakrasi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:41 AM IST
  • The Republic Day Parade ceremony will commence with Prime Minister Narendra Modi visiting the National War Memorial. He will lead the nation in paying tributes to the fallen heroes by laying a wreath.
Close
President Ram Nath Kovind unveiled the portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on Sunday. (Twitter)
President Ram Nath Kovind unveiled the portrait of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose on Sunday. (Twitter)

Much ado about Netaji portrait at Prez House

By HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 06:21 AM IST
  • The claim, that the portrait was based on Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee, popularly known as Bumba, who played Bose in a 2019 movie, Gumnaami gathered momentum.
Close
A Chinese soldier stands guard on the Chinese side of the Naku La border crossing between India and China.(AFP File)
A Chinese soldier stands guard on the Chinese side of the Naku La border crossing between India and China.(AFP File)

Troops come to blows in India-China face-off

By Rahul Singh, Rezaul H Laskar, Sutirtho Patranobis
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:22 AM IST
  • The latest incident took place at Naku La area, which is at a height of over 5,000 metres, on January 20, when Chinese soldiers attempted to intrude into the Indian territory.
Close
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, made it clear that it will not transfer the petitions against the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, to itself, but would like the high court to rule on the validity of the law.(HT Archive)
A Supreme Court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde, made it clear that it will not transfer the petitions against the UP Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religion Ordinance, 2020, to itself, but would like the high court to rule on the validity of the law.(HT Archive)

Conversion ordinance: Don’t take HC ‘lightly’, top court tells UP govt

PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 05:13 AM IST
  • The state government, got adjournments from the high court in the last two hearings citing the pendency of the similar petitions before the Supreme Court.
Close
A TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration. (REUTERS)
A TikTok logo is displayed on a smartphone in this illustration. (REUTERS)

India to impose permanent ban on 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok: Report

Reuters, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON JAN 26, 2021 04:56 AM IST
The ministry's June order stated that the apps were "prejudicial to sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of state and public order".
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP