Delhi had more than three times as many “severely polluted” days in the eight-month period between May and December in 2016, as compared to the corresponding period the previous year, the government said in Parliament Tuesday. In reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave said Delhi had experienced 28 severely polluted days during this period in 2016 as compared to only eight in 2015. In addition, the capital had 97 days in 2016 when the air quality was “very poor” as compared to only 54 the previous year. Similarly, on 120 days during this period in 2016, the air was observed to be of “poor” quality as against only 73 days in 2015.
The minister said that during the January to March period this year, Delhi had 24 days of “very poor” air quality and 39 “poor” days. The number of “moderate” days were only 13. Dave also said that there had been a “minimal increase” in the number of patients with respiratory diseases between 2013 and 2015, but insisted that all of it could not be attributed to air pollution. “Air pollution is one of the aggravating factors for respiratory disease. There are several other factors that may lead to respiratory ailments like smoking, age, genetic causes, etc,” he said.
Listing out the steps being taken to improve air quality, Dave said a ban on burning of leaves, biomass and municipal solid waste, changes in the waste management rules and stricter guidelines for construction industry, early introduction of BS-VI fuel standards for automobiles by 2020, promotion of metro rail and e-rickshaws, and measures like car-pooling, would help bring down the pollution levels. Meanwhile, cracking down on errant pollution under control (PUC) centres, the Transport Department has ordered action against 48 centres for “flouting norms” while certifying vehicles on emissions. The issue was discussed at a review meeting on air pollution chaired by Lt Governor Anil Baijal on Tuesday.