New Delhi has become a gas chamber even before Diwali is celebrated this year. Media reports that Anand Vihar in New Delhi is the most polluted area, with the air becoming eight times more poisonous over the last ten days. The level of pollution has become so alarming that the level of PM-2.5 has reached 275 whereas the that of PM-10 has reached 820. Anand Vihar is closely followed by Punjabi Bag.
To check pollution levels in the capital, the Supreme Court had handed down a banned on the use of diesel generators and had shut down many brick kilns. Not just this, the Supreme Court had also sealed the Badarpur Power Plant. The efforts are proving to be insufficient as burning of parali or stubble in the fields of Haryana and Punjab, after harvesting of crops, increases smoke levels that impact the pollution levels in the capital.
Considering this sorry state in the National Capital Region, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) Tuesday announced that Delhi-NCR will be placed under the “very poor” and “severe” categories under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
According to Sunita Narain, the Director-General of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), and member, EPCA:
As per the action plan, several measures will be taken till March 15 to avoid the ‘severe+’ category that the region had suffered over the last year when a public health emergency was declared.
It is to be noted that ever since the GRAP was announced by the Center in January, the Indian capital has been placed under “moderate” and “poor” categories..
EPCA has also announced that it expects the placement of 32 air monitoring systems in the city over the next few weeks. According to A Sudhakar from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB):
The AQI from these monitoring stations will look at PM 2.5 levels. With this, combined with information from other agencies, we will be able to formulate a daily action plan to target problem areas.
Sudhakar further said that severe weather conditions are expected the morning after Diwali, considering the amount of pollution that is contributed by the festival every year.
On October 20 morning, we expect moisture-laden south-easterly winds to blow into Delhi-NCR and increase pollution levels.
Regarding the age-old custom of burning stubble across the agricultural zone of Haryana and Punjab, EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said:
Farmers have a very small window between the kharif harvest and Rabi sowing season. For them, the easiest way is to burn stubble. Now, it is difficult to convince the older generation to give up the practice but the new generation is willing to take up new technologies that can uproot the stubble too. But this will take some time.Advertisement
The EPCA and all other agencies of the government are prepared to take tough decisions which we believe will help clear the air.