The minister said 550 patrol teams have been formed, of which 246 will be deployed at night. The second phase of the anti-dust campaign will be run from November 12 to December 12, he said.
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Thursday kicked off a month-long campaign against open burning of waste and biomass with an inspection of the Ghazipur landfill, and directed EDMC officials to prepare a fire control plan. The government will review the reasons behind the “slow rate” of biomining of legacy waste at the Ghazipur landfill, the minister said, adding that only five per cent of it has been processed in two and a half years.
“We have launched a campaign to prevent open burning of waste and biomass to cut down on pollution generated within Delhi. Ten departments- DPCC, municipal corporations, revenue department, Delhi Development Authority, Development Department, DSIIDC, I & FC Department and Cantonment Board; are involved in the campaign,” Rai told reporters here. The minister said 550 patrol teams have been formed, of which 246 will be deployed at night. The second phase of the anti-dust campaign will be run from November 12 to December 12, he said.
Rai said he has directed officials of the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) to prepare a plan to control fires at the Ghazipur landfill which “keep on burning for days and pollute the air”. He said according to a recent report by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, only five per cent of the legacy waste at the Ghazipur landfill has been processed in two and a half years.
“It seems difficult to accomplish the task at this rate. They are saying it will take 13 years. The progress is very poor. The EDMC needs to prepare a proper action plan… The city government will also review the reason behind the delay,” Rai said. On Thursday, a thick layer of smog shrouded Delhi-NCR and partially blotted out the sun on Chhath Puja as the air quality slipped back into the ‘severe’ zone, with unfavourable meteorological conditions aiding accumulation of pollutants, authorities said.
Green think tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said the ongoing smog episode is a public health emergency. “This requires urgent emergency action on key combustion sources (vehicles, industry, waste burning) and dust sources (construction and roads) to prevent further trapping of pollution when there is no wind to blow this away,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, CSE.
At 2 pm, Delhi recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 407. Thirty-three of the 39 air quality monitoring stations in the national capital recorded air pollution levels in the ‘severe’ category. The 24-hour average AQI was 372 on Wednesday. Ghaziabad (455), Greater Noida (407) and Noida (429) also recorded severe air quality at 10 am.
An AQI between zero 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”.
An official from the India Meteorological Department said shallow fog and low temperature Delhi recorded the season’s lowest minimum of 12.6 degrees Celsius in the morning trapped pollutants close to the ground and calm winds led to stagnant conditions.
Visibility levels at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the Safdarjung airport dropped to 600-800 metres, he said.
The CSE said the current severe smog episode in Delhi-NCR is expected to last another two days.