Avoiding outdoor exercises and minimal use of private vehicles are some of the measures the CPCB-led task force has suggested for implementation in Delhi-NCR during the first 10 days of November as the air quality is likely to deteriorate further owing to localised emissions around festivals and stubble burning in neighbouring states.
The Central Pollution Control Board’s task force also recommended closure of all construction activities that generate dust pollution between November 1 and 10.
In a meeting with representatives from Environment Ministry, IMD, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, Haryana Pollution Control Board and Delhi Pollution Control Board Friday, the task force apprised the members on the levels of air pollution in Delhi-NCR showing an upward trend.
Siddharth Singh, a representative from the India Meteorological Department, said Delhi’s air quality, which has deteriorated to the very poor level, would continue to remain in that category for a few days.
The task force said that at the beginning of November the situation may further deteriorate on account of localised emissions during festivals and regional contribution due to stubble burning.
In view of this and considering previous years’ experience, the task force recommended a few additional measures as proactive steps to deal with the situation for consideration by the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority.
It has recommended avoiding outdoor strenuous exercises, minimal use of private vehicles to reduce exposure to toxic air.
Other measures included shut down of coal and biomass based industries (excluding thermal and waste-to-energy plants) from November 4 to 10, intensification of efforts by transport department to check polluting vehicles and controlling traffic congestion in Delhi-NCR between November 1 and 10, according to the minutes of the meeting.
The task force also recommended efforts to provide uninterrupted power supply in NCR areas to avoid requirement of operating diesel generator (DG) sets.
D Saha, former air quality chief at CPCB, said meteorological factors like wind speed, solar direction and temperature are mostly responsible for increasing pollution levels in the city.
“If these factors come under control, the air quality automatically improves,” he said.
The measures recommended by the task force are only preventive steps and not to create panic as the air pollution in Delhi is governed by meteorological conditions, he said.
“One strong wind is enough for dispersion of entire pollutants load. Clear sky in south, southeast and western part will improve ventilation coefficient and will improve situation in Delhi and NCR,” Saha said.
The India Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, said large number of biomass fire spots were seen in satellite imageries in neighbouring states of Delhi.
“The prevailing meteorological conditions are not very favourable for dispersal of pollutants for next two days due to very low ventilation index and low wind speed,” the IITM warned.
“As per Air Quality Forecast the Air Quality is likely to be in very poor to severe category at various places in Delhi for next two days. The dominant pollutant of AQ Index is PM2.5 and PM10,” the IITM said.
Delhi’s air quality remained very poor for the fourth day Saturday with five areas of the national capital recording severe pollution levels.
The CPCB recorded the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi at 341. The highest AQI of the season was recorded on Friday at 361.
On Saturday, five areas recorded severe pollution levels. They are Anand Vihar, Dwarka Sector 8, Narela, Punjabi Bagh and Rohini. Punjabi Bagh recorded the highest pollution level in the national capital at 434.
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”.