A thick haze engulfed Delhi as the air quality deteriorated on Tuesday, while the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), after the Supreme Court’s stern observations, asserted that the enforcement bodies have been asked to pull up their socks as their response to public complaints was found “grossly inadequate”.
These agencies have been again directed to join social media platforms to speedily address the grievances, the CPCB said while revealing details of an earlier meeting, a day after the Supreme Court asked it to prosecute government officials for not acting on around 250 complaints received from citizens.
Authorities, meanwhile, said using artificial rain to reduce pollution may not be possible in the near future due to unfavourable meteorological conditions and pending clearance to fly an aircraft for cloud seeding.
The overall air quality index (AQI) of Delhi was recorded between 350-360, which falls in the ‘very poor’ category with four areas recording severe pollution level, according to CPCB data.
It is likely to remain in the same category with a gradual increase in pollution level for the next two days.
The CPCB said Ashok Vihar, Mundaka, Narela and Wazirpur recorded ‘severe’ air quality, while 22 areas of Delhi recorded ‘very poor’ air quality.
The level of PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) was recorded at 211 and the PM10 level was recorded at 390, it said.
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’. In NCR, Ghaziabad recorded the worst air quality at the ‘severe’ level with an AQI of 407.
In NCR, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad and Noida recorded ‘very poor’ air quality, the CPCB data said.
The CPCB had on Monday informed the Supreme Court that “highest number” of air pollution complaints in the Delhi-NCR pertain to construction and demolition activities, followed by burning of waste and road dust.
The CPCB said on its website on Tuesday that it has issued directions for speedy disposal of complaints to the NDMC, SDMC, EDMC, DMRC, CPWD, DDA and the state pollution control boards of Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, among other public bodies.
In a meeting with public agencies and state pollution control boards last week, CPCB Member Secretary Prashant Gargava said the response to complaints lodged on the SAMEER app, which was developed by the CPCB, has been “inadequate”.
“They have to join social media platforms and take action in respect of complaints concerning them,” the CPCB was quoted as saying in the minutes of the meeting posted on its website.
“Actions on public complaints by enforcement bodies were found grossly inadequate. Many agencies have not even joined the social media platform,” it said.
This is the second time the CPCB has urged the public agencies to address the complaints filed against those violating pollution norms.
Earlier on November 14, the CPCB had directed public and enforcement agencies to immediately join social media platforms where citizens could lodge their complaints on pollution directly.
According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, a haze has engulfed the national capital and the wind speed and ventilation index are “extremely unfavourable” for dispersion of pollutants. Ventilation index determines how fast pollutants can get dispersed.
The ventilation index of around 6,000 sqm/second gets rid of pollutants, but it came down to 1,500 sqm/second on Tuesday in the city. According to the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR), the air quality is ‘very poor’ and will remain in the same category with a gradual increase in pollution level for the next two days.
“The increase in pollution can be attributed to decline in wind speed as compared to past two days. All other meteorological factors were already unfavourable,” the SAFAR said in a report.
Though authorities were mulling use of artificial rain to reduce pollution, it may not be possible in the near future due to unfavourable meteorological conditions and pending clearance to fly an aircraft for cloud seeding, an IIT Kanpur professor working on the project said Tuesday.
Clouds having sufficient water content that is required for inducing artificial rain are not currently available, a senior India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.
The professor said other than the availability of clouds with required water content for inducing artificial rainfall, they are also waiting for clearance from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to fly the aircraft that will be used for cloud seeding.
Cloud seeding is the process of combining different kinds of chemical agents, with existing clouds in an effort to thicken them and increase the chances of rainfall.
Talking tough on pollution in Delhi, the Supreme Court on Monday asked the CPCB to prosecute government officials for not acting on around 250 complaints received by it from citizens.
In an affidavit filed in the court, which is seized of matters related to pollution in Delhi-NCR, the CPCB said that “of 749 complaints received on social media and e-mails till November 22, 2018, about 500 complaints (67 per cent of the total) were attended to by 52 teams of CPCB while associating with clean air campaign during November 1-10, 2018”.