Delhi-NCR grapples with toxic air as pollution touches emergency levels

Delhi-NCR grapples with toxic air as pollution touches emergency levels

Air pollution in Delhi is spiking and concentration of fine, cancer-causing pollutants has reached emergency levels with the city’s air quality index, or AQI, in the severe category.

The PM 2.5 pollutant is at nearly 100 times the safe limit set by World Health Organisation (WHO). This pollutant enters the lungs and leads to chronic respiratory illnesses. Long-term exposure can even cause lung cancer.

Also Read: Delhi pollution: Govt may shut schools, colleges; ban on diesel vehicles likely

The development comes just two days after government lifted curbs imposed on Delhi-NCR region to tackle pollution levels due to improvement in air quality. The restrictions are now back in place as air pollution looks to be getting worse.

The Commission for Air Quality Management or CAQM says air quality is going to worsen in the next few days (the level is in dark red zones in many areas of Delhi-NCR). Dense fog, calm winds, and low temperatures are to be blamed for the dip in air quality.

Also Read: Delhiites working hard but still a long way to go: Kejriwal on Delhi pollution

CAQM has banned coal usage in the Delhi-NCR region while asking industries to switch to greener fuels. This even as other dirty fuels like biomass and metallurgical coke are allowed in the region.

CAQM’s Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) is facing questions on efficiency even as children in the Delhi-NCR region are breathing in toxic air. After the air quality improved a few days ago, the stage III of the Graded Response Action Plan was lifted. The stage III includes a ban on non-essential construction and demolition work.

Also Read: Delhi pollution: How GRAP initiative is set to tackle winter blues

Citing a forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, CAQM had relaxed the strict regulations.

Experts have opined that while banning coal is a great move, the government should focus on regional clean-up of Delhi-NCR, including providing benefits for industries so that they choose to switch to natural gas.

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