Updated: October 31, 2021 7:51:02 am
Delhi’s air quality remained in the ‘poor’ category on Saturday with an air quality index of 268. PM2.5 and PM10 were the main pollutants, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) bulletin.
While the AQI is likely to remain in the ‘poor’ category on Sunday as well, it could improve on Monday to stand in the upper end of the ‘moderate’ category since the wind direction is likely to change from northwesterly to southeasterly, according to the SAFAR forecasting system.
Northwesterly winds usually bring pollutants from crop residue burning from Punjab and Haryana.
The contribution of crop residue burning to PM2.5 levels in Delhi was around 12% on Saturday, with an effective fire count of 1826, the SAFAR forecast said. The share of stubble burning to PM2.5 levels has dipped from that on Friday when it stood at around 20%.
While measures under the ‘very poor’ section of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) are to be enforced, a senior official of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) said that inspections to enforce the ban on the use of diesel generator sets and industrial emissions would be conducted by the pollution control body, and the municipal corporations were responsible for enforcing most other measures under the plan. An official of the North MCD said that directions had been issued to ramp up mechanical sweeping with the 18 existing machines, and night patrolling teams, comprising engineers and officials of the health wing, were being deployed to check burning of waste.
The GRAP is meant to reduce emissions at the local level to protect public health, pointed out Dipankar Saha, former additional director, CPCB and former head of the air quality monitoring division in Delhi.
“The impact of the plan can be demonstrated only when it is enforced properly across the NCR and a toxicity analysis is carried out to determine whether there has been a reduction in toxicity. That information is not yet available. But when dilution and dispersion of pollutants are made difficult by the calm meteorological conditions, the only option is to reduce emissions at the ground level so that exposure becomes less hazardous. People’s participation is crucial to ensure that GRAP is implemented properly,” he said. Using PM10 and PM2.5 levels as a marker of the effectiveness of the plan is not correct, he added, since the pollutants are also brought into the area from outside.
“We do not yet have data on the pollutants coming from outside vis-à-vis what has been reduced locally due to implementation of GRAP,” he said.
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