Delhi pollution, weather updates: Air quality in the national capital remained “hazardous” at certain places like Rohini and Ashok Vihar with PM 2.5 (presence of particles with diameter less than 2.5 mm) and PM 10 (presence of particles with diameter less than 10mm) touching 606 and 999, respectively. A thick blanket of haze continued to engulf Delhi and parts of the National Capital Region (NCR), including Noida and Gurgaon. India Meteorological Department and the Environment ministry have predicted that the dusty conditions will continue to prevail for the next two days as well. Hot dusty winds continued to sweep the national capital and its adjoining area as the maximum temperature settled at 40.5 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average.
Meanwhile, the issue treaded into a usual political slugfest with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal shooting off a letter to Prime Minister to end the bureaucratic stalemate so that the pollution menace can be looked into. STate unit leaders of the BJP, on the other hand, have blamed the Arvind Kejriwal government for his protests while the people of Delhi reeled under the pollution onslaught.
Apart from Delhi, the north-western parts of India too experienced dust storms leading to the cancellation of flights from Chandigarh International airport due to low visibility and the Haryana government issuing an advisory to stop construction activities. The air quality deteriorated because of dust storms in western India, particularly Rajasthan, which increased coarser particles in the air, the Central Pollution Control Board said.
Environment ministry alert: Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan directed agencies to be on “maximum” alert and take all measures to contain sources of dust. “In view of the seriousness of the situation, Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan has directed agencies concerned to be on maximum alert and to ensure all necessary measures to contain sources of dust and to check garbage burning. He also appealed to the people to avoid unnecessary exposure, given the prevailing situation,” an official statement said yesterday. It said the Task Force under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) met with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and recommended that construction activity-related enforcement measures under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) be brought into operation immediately.
AQI hazardous: “The 24-hour average concentration (rolling) of PM10 was 1,400 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/m3), more than three times above the severe level,” Gufran Beig, a scientist at the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research institute (SAFAR), said. The severe level begins at 430 ug/m3. “The pollution caused due to dust storm was expected to settle but the wind speed reduced on Wednesday, causing the dust that entered Delhi to get trapped in the atmosphere leading to prolonging of pollution,” Beig said. An AQI between 0-50 is considered “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor”, and 401-500 “severe”.
Lieutenant Governor cracks down: Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal has ordered stoppage of all civil construction activities across Delhi till Sunday as part of emergency measures that also include intensifying mechanical road sweeping. The L-G tweeted that he held an emergency meeting in view of the severe dust pollution in Delhi with Environment Minister Imran Hussain and the concerned officials. He said emergency measures like stoppage of all civil construction activities till June 17 have been taken and further monitoring would be done by agencies like NHAI, DMRC, MCDs, PWD and NBCC to ensure compliance. “Municipal Corporations and PWD will intensify mechanical road sweepings, the sprinkling of non-potable water at central verges and roadsides and stop brooming activity on main roads,” an L-G office statement said.
Arvind Kejriwal writes to PM Modi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention to end IAS officers’ strike in the National Capital so that the Delhi government can address the issue of rising pollution in the city. “Due to strike, several works are being affected. As L-G is doing nothing to end IAS officers’ strike, Delhi government and the people of Delhi request you (PM) with folded hands to get the strike called off immediately so the Delhi Government can resume its work,” Kejriwal said in his letter.