Odd-even rule to return? Pollution levels persist in ‘emergency’ category in Delhi-NCR

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Updated: Nov 11, 2020 1:04 PM

The recommendations by GRAP for monitoring air pollution include stopping construction activities, implementing odd-even road rationing scheme and restricting entry to trucks to Delhi when pollution reaches ‘emergency’ level.

Air pollution, Air Quality Index, SAFAR, odd-even rule, Delhi pollution, Commission for Air Quality Management, Central Pollution Control BoardOdd-even rule to return to with pollution levels persist in 'emergency' category in Delhi-NCR. (PTI Photo)

Delhi’s air pollution is not expected to get better any time soon, forecast by government agencies said. On Tuesday, with an Air Quality Index recorded at 476, pollution levels persisted in ‘emergency’ category for more than 48 hours, reported IE.

Commission for Air Quality Management member Arvind Nautiyal asked the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to implement measures to manage rising levels of air pollution with Union Environment Ministry’s latest strategy called Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP). The recommendations by GRAP include stopping construction activities, implementing odd-even road rationing scheme and restricting entry to trucks to Delhi when pollution reaches ‘emergency’ level.

The letter by Nautiyal to Central Pollution Board (also copied to chief secretaries of four states bordering Delhi) further stated that until a permanent mechanism is set up by the Commission, CPCB has the responsibility of implementing and monitoring GRAP’s proposition to counter air pollution.

CPCB Chairman confirmed that an internal meeting will be held after which the measures will be called to action. Union environment secretary also assured that GRAP will be implemented.

The odd-even rule for vehicular movement on Delhi roads and the construction ban was clamped last year when pollution levels reached at an all-time high level. Last month the Centre through an ordinance dissolved EPCA and formed a new body, Commission for Air Quality Management in Delhi NCR with the aim of streamlining Interstate cooperation, public participation and persistent research and innovation and expert involvement in the field of air pollution management.

According to GRAP, pollution level reaches an emergency level when PM 2.5 and PM 10 crosses the threshold of 300 and 500 micrograms per cubic meter in the air. Delhi reached such level on November 8 at 4 pm, CPCB data said. The 24-hour exposure limit of these fine inhalable particles peaked at 644 µg/m3 and 779 µg/m3 for PM 2.5 and PM 10 respectively after 24 hours exposure on Tuesday afternoon. Delhi’s AQI has been at a severe level since November 5. Such high air pollution can pose hazards for people with pre-existing health conditions, CPCB report further said.

Calm winds, high moisture levels and pollutants from farm fire are further deteriorating air pollution in Delhi. Air Quality monitor SAFAR has revealed that Delhi’s share of PM 2.5 from stubble burning in neighbouring states is 22%. Favourable transport-level wind direction added to the farm fire-related intrusion. Moreover, calm winds accumulated old and new pollutants in the air. Change in wind direction from north-westerly to easterly on Tuesday is expected to lessen pollutant levels in Delhi air due to farm fires.

The Ministry of Earth Sciences forecast says the air quality on Wednesday will be ‘severe’ and between ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’ on Thursday.

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