Air quality drops to ‘hazardous’ mark in Delhi-NCR

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Air quality in the national capital continues to worsen as the Delhi government’s Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) comes into play today. Air Quality Index (AQI) as high as 317 was recorded in Dwarka’s Sector 8 and 314 in Anand Vihar, both of which fall under the category of ‘hazardous’ owing to the large concentration of PM10 pollutant particles.

Similarly, several areas have popped up in the ‘very unhealthy’ category with AQIs between 200 and 2265. These include Bawana, IIT Delhi, Mundka, Shahdra, and Sriniwaspuri among others. Localities in Central Delhi, including Pusa and Mandir Marg, recorded AQIs that fall in the ‘unhealthy’ category.

In Anand Vihar, where air quality reached hazardous levels, the concentration of pollutant particle PM2.5 was recorded at 238. The concentration of PM10 in the same locality reached 314. This comes at a time when the Delhi government’s GRAP is coming into effect from today with the aim of improving air quality in the national capital region (NCR).

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As part of this response plan, the use of private vehicles will be discouraged, entry of trucks will be prohibited and the use of diesel generators will be curbed along with the closure of brick kilns and stone crushers. The plan was first proposed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) in 2017 with an aim to improve air quality in Delhi and its neighbouring cities. The Odd-Even scheme is also likely to be implemented as part of GRAP.

Even as parts of Delhi recorded ‘hazardous’ levels of AQI, neighbouring settlements in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana recorded even higher concentrations of pollutant particles. Sector 125 in Noida witnessed an AQI of 349, putting it in the ‘hazardous’ category followed by Sector 62 which recorded an AQI of 340. Meanwhile, an AQI of 356 was gauged in Sanjay Nagar in Ghaziabad which puts it in the ‘very unhealthy’ category along with Gwal Pahari in Gurugram and Sector 16A in Faridabad.

Time and again, experts have pointed out how stubble burning in neighbouring states contributes to Delhi’s worsening air quality. Since the commencement of the sowing season, visuals of farmers burning their stubble in large numbers have come to light from parts of Haryana such as Fatehabad and Amritsar in Punjab. Whether the elaborate nature of GRAP is able to bring down air pollution levels in Delhi NCR in the face of widespread stubble burning is yet to be seen.

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