Photos: Delhi short of breath; air quality ‘very poor’ despite measures

Delhi on October 23 faced its worst air day in the last nine months, when air quality plunged to the ‘severe’ zone in at least 12 of the 35 pollution monitoring stations in the city. Nine of these are neighbourhoods that have already been marked as ‘hot spots’, where the government has improved monitoring and is focusing on stricter enforcement of rules over the last two years. And while the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority and other bodies are grappling with more stringent measures and their trade-offs amid the Covid-19 pandemic, experts are flagging such actions for coming too late despite Delhi’s annual run-ins with bad weather during these months.

Updated On Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST
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A comparative view of India Gate on August 22 (left) and October 22 (right) highlighting Delhi’s annual deterioration of air quality closer to winter. Delhi’s air quality slipped to the far end of the “very poor” zone on October 23, raising a belated alarm among the city’s pollution monitoring and enforcement agencies. (Biplov Bhuyan , Vipin Kumar / HT Photo )
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

A comparative view of India Gate on August 22 (left) and October 22 (right) highlighting Delhi’s annual deterioration of air quality closer to winter. Delhi’s air quality slipped to the far end of the “very poor” zone on October 23, raising a belated alarm among the city’s pollution monitoring and enforcement agencies. (Biplov Bhuyan , Vipin Kumar / HT Photo )

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People make a photograph against a rainbow near India Gate at Rajpath in New Delhi on August 21. With pre-emptive measures listed under the winter segment of the Supreme Court-approved Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) already in place, the Capital will now have to turn to strict restrictions and stringent enforcement to survive the return of an annual air emergency. (Amal KS / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

People make a photograph against a rainbow near India Gate at Rajpath in New Delhi on August 21. With pre-emptive measures listed under the winter segment of the Supreme Court-approved Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) already in place, the Capital will now have to turn to strict restrictions and stringent enforcement to survive the return of an annual air emergency. (Amal KS / HT Photo)

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Rashtrapati Bhavan shrouded in a thick layer of haze in the morning, at Rajpath in New Delhi on October 22. Starting October 15, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), enforced several preventive measures listed under the “very poor” category, including banning diesel generator sets, starting mechanised sweeping, and closely monitoring the garbage burning ban, among other steps. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

Rashtrapati Bhavan shrouded in a thick layer of haze in the morning, at Rajpath in New Delhi on October 22. Starting October 15, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA), enforced several preventive measures listed under the “very poor” category, including banning diesel generator sets, starting mechanised sweeping, and closely monitoring the garbage burning ban, among other steps. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

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A Pink Line metro train seen near Anand Vihar on a smoggy day in New Delhi on October 22. Despite EPCA’s move, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) on OCtober 23 was 366, and about 12 of the 35 monitoring stations in the city were over the ‘severe’ 400 mark for large parts of the day. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

A Pink Line metro train seen near Anand Vihar on a smoggy day in New Delhi on October 22. Despite EPCA’s move, Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) on OCtober 23 was 366, and about 12 of the 35 monitoring stations in the city were over the ‘severe’ 400 mark for large parts of the day. (Raj K Raj / HT Photo)

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Clouds loom over Connaught Place in New Delhi on August 23. Most of end-August saw Delhi sporting clear skies and clean air, with the occasional rain in tow. According to an Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, Delhi’s current air situation is only expected to get worse over the weekend, plunging the city into a public health emergency. (Amal KS / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

Clouds loom over Connaught Place in New Delhi on August 23. Most of end-August saw Delhi sporting clear skies and clean air, with the occasional rain in tow. According to an Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, Delhi’s current air situation is only expected to get worse over the weekend, plunging the city into a public health emergency. (Amal KS / HT Photo)

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An aerial view of Connaught Place blanketed in heavy haze on October 22. According to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), first implemented in 2017 through the Supreme Court-appointed EPCA, if the air quality continues to be “very poor” for 48 hours, strict measures such as enhancing parking fees three to four times need to be brought in. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

An aerial view of Connaught Place blanketed in heavy haze on October 22. According to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), first implemented in 2017 through the Supreme Court-appointed EPCA, if the air quality continues to be “very poor” for 48 hours, strict measures such as enhancing parking fees three to four times need to be brought in. (Vipin Kumar / HT Photo)

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A view of the city skyline on a clear day, seen from the Civic Centre in New Delhi on August 25. But with the Capital still reeling under the Covid-19 crisis, EPCA is considering whether it would be feasible to enforce the GRAP-- both from the view of economic activity among citizens, and the importance of parking collections for cash-strapped municipal agencies. (Sonu Mehta / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

A view of the city skyline on a clear day, seen from the Civic Centre in New Delhi on August 25. But with the Capital still reeling under the Covid-19 crisis, EPCA is considering whether it would be feasible to enforce the GRAP-- both from the view of economic activity among citizens, and the importance of parking collections for cash-strapped municipal agencies. (Sonu Mehta / HT Photo)

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Vehicles move amid heavy haze near Supreme Court at Tilak Marg in New Delhi on October 22. The next steps, which come into force under the “severe” category -- if the AQI is above 400 for 48 hours -- are bans on the entry of trucks, on industries running on coal being asked to cease operations, and implementing odd-even road rationing for private vehicles. (Arvind Yadav / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

Vehicles move amid heavy haze near Supreme Court at Tilak Marg in New Delhi on October 22. The next steps, which come into force under the “severe” category -- if the AQI is above 400 for 48 hours -- are bans on the entry of trucks, on industries running on coal being asked to cease operations, and implementing odd-even road rationing for private vehicles. (Arvind Yadav / HT Photo)

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Clouds over Connaught Place on a sunny day in New Delhi on August 22. Barely two months since, the capital has had the EPCA grappling with the feasibility of ideas to combat air pollution -- construction agencies, for example, have reached out to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) asking that no bans been enforced this year, irrespective of the air quality, because work is already behind due to the lockdown. (Sonu Mehta / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

Clouds over Connaught Place on a sunny day in New Delhi on August 22. Barely two months since, the capital has had the EPCA grappling with the feasibility of ideas to combat air pollution -- construction agencies, for example, have reached out to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) asking that no bans been enforced this year, irrespective of the air quality, because work is already behind due to the lockdown. (Sonu Mehta / HT Photo)

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Haze blocks a metro train from view near Yamuna Bank in New Delhi on October 18. Amid this emergency, Tulsi Kumar, an independent researcher who specialises in air quality trends in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, said the authorities cannot wake up right before the winter season every time. “Agencies are supposed to work through the year only then can we see impact,” Kumar told HT. (Sanjeev Verma / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

Haze blocks a metro train from view near Yamuna Bank in New Delhi on October 18. Amid this emergency, Tulsi Kumar, an independent researcher who specialises in air quality trends in the Indo-Gangetic Plains, said the authorities cannot wake up right before the winter season every time. “Agencies are supposed to work through the year only then can we see impact,” Kumar told HT. (Sanjeev Verma / HT Photo)

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People walk past the tomb of Muhammad Shah in Lodhi Garden, New Delhi on August 30. Mukesh Khare, a professor at IIT-Delhi, told HT that while GRAP has proved effective in many countries, Delhi needs a re-evaluation of the strategy. “We need to revisit the plan and see what responses should be implemented under which category… there are multiple agencies responsible for enforcement, and action is lagging,” Khare said. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)
Updated on Oct 24, 2020 11:38 AM IST

People walk past the tomb of Muhammad Shah in Lodhi Garden, New Delhi on August 30. Mukesh Khare, a professor at IIT-Delhi, told HT that while GRAP has proved effective in many countries, Delhi needs a re-evaluation of the strategy. “We need to revisit the plan and see what responses should be implemented under which category… there are multiple agencies responsible for enforcement, and action is lagging,” Khare said. (Sanchit Khanna / HT Photo)

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