A day ahead of Diwali, Delhi’s air quality was recorded in the “very poor” category as winds continued to blow from regions where there is rampant stubble burning even as pollution watchdog CPCB recommended a ban on entry of heavy vehicles into the city from November 8-10. Twenty-five areas in Delhi recorded “very poor” quality air, while eight areas recorded “poor” air quality. Experts have warned of severe spike in pollution levels after Diwali even if “partial toxic crackers” are burnt compared to last year. Citizens gathered outside the Environment Ministry Tuesday to protest against the alarming rise in the pollution level that has raised health concerns. To address the air pollution situation, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said it was mulling inducing artificial rain over the city after Diwali to wash away hazardous pollutants plaguing the national capital.
And for this, the pollution monitoring body is in talks with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Delhi recorded its worst air quality of the season Monday, when pollution levels reached eight times the permissable limit while a thick haze had engulfed the city. Doctors have said the impact of air pollution on public health can be compared to smoking 15-20 cigarettes a day. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) on Tuesday was recorded at 320, which falls in the “very poor” category, according to data by the CPCB. On Monday, the AQI was recorded at 434 which falls in the “severe” category and was the highest of the season. An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor” and 401 and 500 “severe”.
On Tuesday, the PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) level was recorded at 190 while the PM10 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) was recorded at 325 in Delhi.
In Delhi-NCR, the PM2.5 was recorded 186 and PM10 was recorded at 319, the CPCB data said. Authorities attributed the pollution to the change in wind direction, which is now blowing from the direction of stubble burning areas of Punjab and Haryana. About 14 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in Delhi on Tuesday was caused due to stubble burning, while 33 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in Delhi on Monday was caused due to stubble burning, authorities said.
Winds coming from the north-west direction is bringing the influence of biomass burning to Delhi-NCR which may continue up till Wednesday morning, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said. Delhi’s air quality is expected to deteriorate to “severe plus emergency” category after Diwali, the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said. Meanwhile, the CPCB said it has recommended to the authorities that the entry of heavy vehicles in Delhi be banned after Diwali from November 8 to 10 when the air quality is expected to deteriorate further to “severe” level.
The CPCB Tuesday held a meeting with transport authorities regarding this, Prashant Gargava, Member Secretary of the statutory organisation under the Environment Ministry, said. The recommendation was made in view of the heavy pollution caused by such vehicles which might add to the woes of the national capital which is already battling alarming levels of pollution, another CPCB official said. CPCB officials also said they were in talks with IIT, Kanpur, and IMD for inducing artificial rain after Diwali. An official said they were waiting for the meteorological conditions to stabilise before they can plan to induce artificial rain using cloud seeding. Cloud seeding is the process of combining different kinds of chemical agents – including silver iodide, dry ice, and even common table salt – with existing clouds in an effort to thicken the clouds and increase the chance of rain or snowfall. An IIT Kanpur professor said weather conditions were being monitored to become favourable for creating artificial rains.
“We are supporting the project by providing salt mix for inducing artificial rains. The weatherman is monitoring weather conditions to become favourable for creating artificial rains,” the professor, who is part of the project, said.
In 2016, the government tried to explore the possibility of cloud seeding for artificial rain but the plan never worked out. Last year, the government had proposed the possibility of reducing dust by watering Delhi from a helicopter to Union Minister Harsh Vardhan. Citizens Tuesday protested against the rising air pollution and submitted a letter to senior official of the Union Environment Ministry and the Delhi government, demanding their “Right to Breath” and faster implementation of a time-bound National Clean Air Program.
The protesters held placards displaying messages like “Delhi air is poisonous”, “breathing is killing me”, “#My Right to Breathe” and “Unbreathable India” outside the Indira Pariyavaran Bhawan here.
Continuing with its crackdown, the Delhi Police Tuesday seized over 100 kilograms of illegal firecrackers in Dwarka and arrested five people for illegally storing them.
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