National Capital Air Quality Remains Poor, Visibility Low

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New Delhi : The pollution level in the national capital remained critical on Tuesday morning. Due to smog the visibility early in the morning remained low causing problem in movement of traffic.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) in East Delhi’s Dilshad Garden was 420, whereas it was 319 in Anand Vihar. The pollution was recorded highest in Punjabi Bagh”>Punjabi Bagh with AQI 999 and 852 in R.K. Puram. The air quality in Dwarka and NCR also hovered between 400-420.

ssue daily health advisory to people: India has already adopted a system of issuing health advisories along with its air quality index. But this is not being utilised to issue alerts to people. It clearly states that not only those who are ailing are extremely vulnerable at the current level of pollution, but also the general public who can develop a host of symptoms.

Issue official advice to children and ailing to stay indoors:

Health advisory needs to inform people to keep children and those suffering from heart and respiratory ailments and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) indoors and avoid outdoor exercises. Schools should be shut if necessary. Children are more vulnerable as they have a poor defence mechanism. Their ability to metabolise and detoxify environmental agents is different. Given their hyper level of physical activities, they inhale more volume of air than adults and therefore, breathe in more pollution. Joint studies of Central Pollution Control Board and the Chittaranjan National Cancer Research Institute from Kolkata have shown that every third child in Delhi has impaired lungs. At their growing age, due to greater level of physical activity, they inhale more volume of air and therefore more pollution.

Need pollution emergency plan to cut peak pollution levels: The government must announce a slew of emergency actions. It needs to implement measures to reduce vehicle numbers, shut down the Badarpur power plant and take very stringent action on waste burning, construction activities and ban on fireworks in all social events during winter.

Roll out short- to mid-term action for enduring change: This year has been a lost opportunity when it comes to adopting both short- mid-term measures. Other than truck entry, no other tangible action has been taken, especially on improving public transport, encouraging walking and cycling and putting restraints on parking. A time-bound action will have to be rolled out immediately.

Need inter-state cooperation and intervention of the Central government to control farm fires in Punjab and Haryana: The action directed by the Supreme Court as well as the National Green Tribunal related to subsidy for farmers to buy appropriate technology that will prevent burning of straw as well as the infrastructure for reusing straw should be put in place very quickly. This needs financial support from the central as well as state governments.