It’s been two days since the festival of Diwali got over. However, the smog still hangs in the air. The woolly mist continues to make the haziness even clearer. Pollution levels have shot up to such levels in the national capital that the air quality has moved to a ‘severe’ level.
According to the real-time air quality data monitored, PM2.5 in Delhi went up to 753 micrograms per cubic meters in areas like Pitampura, which is almost 12 times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic meters. Similarly, PM10 stood at 828 micrograms per cubic meters which is also way above the safe limit of 100 micrograms.
Back in 2015, schools and factories were shut in Beijing when the first ever pollution “red alert” came into effect. Soon after the alert was sounded. limits were put for use on cars, factories were ordered to stop their operations. And this was implemented when Beijing reported PM 2.5 at 291 micrograms per cubic metre. A grey soupy haze subsumed Beijing’s unique landmarks, convenience stores sold air-filtering masks at brisk rates and health-food stores promoted pear juice as a traditional Chinese tonic for the lungs.
Moreover, a red alert requires a forecast of 72 straight hours of pollution levels of 300 or higher on the city’s air quality index. The index is closely linked to levels of PM2.5, although it also includes other pollutants.
While the World Health Organization considers 25 micrograms per cubic metre as the maximum safe level, it lauded the efforts taken by the Beijing government.
Coming back to Delhi, on Monday, the Central Pollution Control Board recorded that PM 2.5 in Delhi went up to 999 in the US Embassy area and 702 in Anand Vihar. In R K Puram, PM 2.5 went up to 643 micrograms which is almost ten times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metres and PM 10 stood at 999 micrograms per cubic metres which is also way more than the safe limit of 100 micrograms.
Was it not necessary for a “red alert” to be sounded in the area or for some effective restrictions to be put in place?
The AAP-led Delhi government on Tuesday announced its plan of action to tackle down the severe levels of pollution this winter. Some of these plans include coming down harshly on construction site violations, the revival of the Swachch Delhi-app, re-starting the vacuum cleaning of streets and sprinkling the arterial roads with water to bring down the dust. Although Delhi’s Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia did not speak about any upgradation in public transport like buses. Even the odd-even strategy wasn’t spoken of. Sisodia did not talk about any other emergency step that would be implemented if Delhi’s air quality worsened again.