Delhi AQI dips to ‘severe’ level, expert cites discrepancy in govt plans, farmer compliance

| Updated: 03 November, 2023 3:16 pm IST

NEW DELHI: As the national capital grapples with deteriorating air quality, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has invoked the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) stage III in Delhi, supplementing the stage I and II measures already in effect.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data for November 3, air quality stations at Anand Vihar, Punjabi Bagh, and Mundka have entered the ‘severe’ category.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) categorises air quality as ‘good’ (0-50), ‘satisfactory’ (51-100), ‘moderate’ (101-200), ‘poor’ (201-300), ‘very poor’ (301-400), and ‘severe’ (401-500).

The CAQM Sub-Committee, responsible for implementing actions under the GRAP, conducted a comprehensive review of the air quality situation in the region during its meeting on November 2. They also considered meteorological forecasts and AQI predictions provided by IMD/IITM.

“The Sub-Committee observed that the AQI of Delhi since 10 am of November 2, is on sharp increase, and at 4 pm the average AQI for Delhi on date recorded as 392. Further, the average AQI for Delhi at 5 pm stood at 402 which is only expected to increase further owing to the highly unfavourable meteorological and climatic conditions,” the notification stated.

GRAP III introduces various measures, such as increased mechanised/vacuum-based road sweeping, daily water sprinkling with dust suppressants before peak traffic hours, and a strict ban on construction and demolition activities throughout the National Capital Region (NCR), except for essential projects related to railways, metro services, airports, national security, healthcare facilities, and linear public projects.

Nevertheless, environmental expert Kavita Ashok questioned the seasonal approach to tackling pollution and the government’s response. In an exclusive interview with The New Indian, Ashok stated, “We are not caught off the guard, this is a recurring hazard, an issue sidelined during the entire year. Only when the pollution hits hard and skyrockets to 400 plus, the authorities rise to action, like the phoenix! The GRAP will help but not cure this problem. It’s late in the day.”

Ashok further emphasised, “Everyone in Delhi and the NCR knows that every November, we are subjected to hazardous air quality, leading to a rush of parents and children to hospitals. This is not a new challenge; it has persisted for the last eight to 10 years.

“Whatever action the government takes now will provide only marginal relief. Planning should have commenced by August, engaging with farmers to understand their challenges and preventing stubble burning.”

Speaking about stubble burning, which Ashok witnessed while travelling from Delhi to Jaipur on October 17 and 18, noted, “There seems to be an imbalance between the Delhi government’s efforts and their approach to farmers, who appear disinterested in compliance, resulting in the continuation of stubble burning.”

The expert also stressed the importance of citizen participation, saying, “Citizens have a significant role to play. We must adhere to the government’s regulations for the safety of our families, children, and parents. It is crucial for our well-being.”



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