Air quality in Noida and Ghaziabad from Sept 15-Oct 15 worse than last year’s
Ghaziabad/Noida: Even as the different agencies have started with pollution abatement measures ahead of the winter season, the figures of past one month from September 15 to October 15 indicate that the three cities of Ghaziabad, Greater Noida and Noida have remained at a higher average air quality index (AQI) of 194, 192 and 175, respectively, as compared to the average figures for the corresponding period last year.
According to the data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), from September 15 to October 15 last year, the average AQI for Ghaziabad, Greater Noida and Noida stood much lower at 133, 141 and 129, respectively. The officials attribute the rise in air pollution ahead of winter this year to the meteorological conditions and early withdrawal of monsoon.
“The average AQI range is higher this year due to early withdrawal of monsoon which came into effect around September 25. The last rainfall activity in the region this year was on September 8. So, there has been lesser dispersal of pollutants this year due to no rain in major part of September. Last year, the monsoon withdrawal was on October 10 with October 4 being the last day that saw 47mm of rainfall,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, head of India Meteorological Department’s Regional Weather Forecasting Centre, New Delhi.
“Further, early withdrawal of monsoon this year has also led to early start of stubble burning which has also affected air quality around the start of September. Moreover, the wind speed last year was more in October as compared to 10-12kmph at present. In another 2-3 days, we will have easterly winds coming in but they will have lesser speed. So, chances of accumulation of pollutants are more,” he added.
According to official statistics of the Consortium for Research on Agroecosystem Monitoring and Modelling from Space (CREAMS) Laboratory – a division of agricultural physics, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi, there have been 7,640 instances of stubble burning in three states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh during the period from October 1 to October 18.
During the same period in 2019 and 2018, the three states registered 3,727 and 4,033 instances of stubble burning, respectively, according to CREAMS’ records.
The UP Pollution Control Board (UPPCB) officials from Noida said that the various government agencies are working aggressively to control pollution. “The higher side of AQI witnessed this year is primarily resultant of meteorological conditions. Locally, we do not have major source, except increase in number of vehicles. The work for the Delhi-Meerut Expressway is towards the finish and it is also not contributing majorly to the pollution,” said Praveen Kumar, regional officer of UPPCB at Noida.
The UPPCB officials from Ghaziabad said that the higher ranges of AQI have resulted due to lesser rainfall in September and October. “Last year, there was rainfall activity in months of September and October which led to lowering of pollutants. This year, we have taken up more stringent steps like installation of cameras at construction sites and even asked polluting units to install cameras which will be under control of UPPCB. Apart from this, regular action is being taken against illegally run factories. Different agencies are also taking up pollution abatement measures,” said Utsav Sharma, regional officer of UPPCB, Ghaziabad.
The UPPCB officials also said that due to the early start of stubble burning this season, they are expecting that concentrated burning on fewer days will rather be spread in form of distributed burning over a longer period of time and will result in lesser deterioration of air quality.
Akash Vashishtha, a Ghaziabad-based environmentalist, said, “It will be wrong to squarely blame stubble burning for pollution. If the officials expect that stubble burning this year will be spread over a longer period of time and will result in lesser pollution, they must also keep in check the local pollutants which also have a high share in air pollution.”
Echoing similar views, Colonel (retired) TP Tyagi, president of flat owners’ association, said, “It would not be correct to state that deterioration in air quality is due to stubble burning which has been a practice prevalent for decades. The vehicle base in NCR has increased tremendously, along with construction activities and instances of burning of solid waste and garbage. Local pollutants also share a major contribution.”