New Delhi: Authorities on Friday advised people to limit outdoor activities and called on government and private offices to reduce vehicle use by at least 30% as air quality in Delhi RCN moved closer to emergency level amid increased emissions from farm fires and adverse weather conditions.
More than 4,000 farm fires, accounting for 35% of Delhi’s pollution on Friday, played a major role in pushing the 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) to 471 at 4 p.m., the worst this season so far. It was 411 Thursday.
A sub-committee on the Graduated Response Action Plan (GRAP) said weather conditions will be severely unfavorable for the dispersal of pollutants until November 18 and relevant agencies must be fully prepared to implement measures. in the “emergency” category.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said the 24-hour average concentration of lung-harmful fine particles known as PM2.5 in Delhi-NCR crossed the 300 mark around midnight and stood at 381 micrograms per cubic meter at 4 p.m. Friday, more than six times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meter.
The level of PM10 was recorded at 577 micrograms per cubic meter, more than five times the safe limit of 100 micrograms per cubic meter.
According to GRAP, air quality is considered to be in the “emergency” category if the levels of PM2.5 and PM10 continue to be above 300 micrograms per cubic meter and 500 micrograms per cubic meter respectively for 48 hours or more.
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After reviewing the situation, the sub-committee on GRAP said: “Administrations, private offices and other establishments are advised to reduce vehicle use by at least 30% (by working from home, by carpooling, optimizing field activities, etc.). to limit outdoor activities and minimize their exposure.
“The agencies concerned must be perfectly ready to implement measures of the” emergency “category in accordance with the GRAP (Graduated Response Action Plan)”, indicates an order issued by the committee.
The GRAP – a package of anti-pollution measures monitored in Delhi and surrounding areas depending on the severity of the situation comes into effect in mid-October when air quality levels start to deteriorate.
Steps to be taken in the “emergency” include stopping the entry of trucks into Delhi, banning construction activities and introducing the odd-even car rationing program.
CPCB member secretary Prashant Gargava observed that due to inclement weather, stubble burning and poor dispersion leading to a build-up of pollutants, the coming week is critical for air quality from Delhi-NCR.
The CPCB said a report on actions taken is received daily from the Uttar Pradesh and Haryana Pollution Control Boards, but is expected from the Delhi Pollution Control Board and the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board.
According to an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, people in Delhi breathe the worst air between November 1 and November 15 each year. The city has experienced poor air quality for six of the past eight days after Diwali.
Faridabad (460), Ghaziabad (486), Greater Noida (478), Gurgaon (448) and Noida (488) also recorded poor air quality at 4 p.m. on Friday.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very bad”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.
A layer of lingering stinging smog over Delhi-NCR thickened on Friday, giving the sun an orange tint and lowering visibility to 200 meters in several parts of the region.
Officials from India’s meteorological department said moderate fog and low temperatures in the morning – a low of 12.6 degrees Celsius on Friday – and calm winds had trapped the pollutants close to the ground.
“Visibility levels at Indira Gandhi International Airport and Safdarjung Airport fell to 200-500 meters due to moderate fog. It intensified on Friday due to high humidity,” said declared an official.
The green think tank Center for Science and Environment (CSE) said the ongoing smog episode is a public health emergency and could be the longest in four years. In another report, he said vehicles accounted for more than 50% of Delhi’s pollution from October 24 to November 8.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality forecasting agency, SAFAR, stubble burning accounted for at least 25% of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution for nine days trotting, from November 4.
Gufran Beig, the founding project manager of SAFAR, said that stubble burning generally contributes to PM2.5, but this time its coarser particles in PM10 are also becoming a main pollutant in several places in Delhi.
“This is a novelty in winter. This is mainly due to the mechanism of particle growth due to high humidity at night and increased humidity during the day probably due to the sprinkling of water which increases the holding capacity of air. Since the flow is steady, many PM2.5 particles develop into PM10 (sic), “he said.
The share of farm fires in Delhi’s pollution rose to 48% on Sunday, the highest since November 5, 2018, when it was 58%.
Last year, thatch burning’s share of Delhi’s pollution peaked at 42% on November 5. In 2019, it accounted for 44% of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution on November 1.
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Friday kicked off the second stage of the dust pollution campaign. On Thursday, he launched a month-long campaign to prevent open burning of waste and biomass in the city.