It’s November, again, and the same headlines blanket news outlets in India and the world: air pollution in Delhi has hit dangerous levels. Since last winter, this problem had faded from public concern as had the smog itself until now.
There was no respite for Delhiites from poor air quality as smog continued to engulf the national capital on Sunday. People who went for a morning walk at India Gate were seen wearing masks and said it was tough to breathe and the situation needed to be fixed urgently.
The minimum temperature dropped to 13 degrees Celsius. High humidity level at 98 percent contributed to the smog, a MeT department official said. Light rain is expected on November 14-15 which might intensify the fog but could clear the smog, the official said.
The hurdle faced by the Delhi government in implementing the odd-even scheme shows the challenges in controlling air pollution in the national capital. Even though the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered the Delhi government to implement odd-even without any exemption on Saturday, the state government had to roll back its decision to implement the same.
This in effect means that the odd-even which was scheduled to start from Monday for five days has been put on hold as of now. The national capital has been experiencing dense smog for the past a few days, forcing authorities to enforce emergency measures such as banning construction activities and brick kilns due to worsening air pollution.
PM Modi’s Constituency Is The Most Polluted:
At a time when the National Capital is hitting the headlines over alarming levels of pollution, a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has found that the air quality of holy city Varanasi is most polluted among the 42 cities monitored recently.
The concentration of PM2.5, the prominent pollutant, was more than eight times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The fine particulate matter, known as an invisible killer, has a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometers, 3% the diameter of a human hair. On Thursday, Varanasi’s AQI was 358, which placed it in the “very poor” category.
Varanasi’s Air Quality Index (AQI) at 4 PM was at an alarming 491, followed by Gurugram at 480, Delhi at 468, Lucknow at 462 and Kanpur at 461. Notably, pollution level is categorized as ‘severe’ when the AQI ranges between 401 and 500, which affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases.
The Delhi High Court also issued a slew of directions to control pollution in Delhi-NCR and banned felling of trees, ordered sprinkling of water on roads to control dust and strict enforcement of construction code.
Besides hampering visibility on road, the situation has become a public health emergency. In the wake of incessant air pollution and smog, some schools in Delhi shifted their winter opening and closing timings by an hour.