PM10 At Winter Levels, Haze To Stay 3 More DaysJasjeev.Gandhiok@timesgroup.com
Delhi’s air quality plunged into the “severe” category on Wednesday as dusty conditions continued for a second straight day, trapping the city under a blanket of heat and particulate matter. PM 10 levels shot up to over eight times the safe standard, levels last seen this winter.
Agencies like the CPCB and the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) were pushed into action with an emergency task force meeting conducted to issue directions to chief secretaries of all Delhi-NCR states to carry out sprinkling of water to keep the dust down and be prepared for any additional measures over the next few days. According to the IMD, similar conditions are likely to persist for the next three days with little change expected in terms of the dust hanging in the air.
“The high pollution levels being seen during this time of the year in Delhi are unusual and primarily due to dust storms from Rajasthan. The wind direction in Delhi changed on June 10 to west and northwest, and then, from June 12, it has been west and southwest, due to which hot air and dust from Rajasthan has started moving into Delhi,” a statement by the ministry of environment and forests said on Wednesday.
“According to the India Meteorological Department, these conditions are likely to prevail over Delhi for the next three days,” the ministry’s statement said.
The haze at ITO. Chief secretaries of Delhi-NCR states have been directed to carry out sprinkling of water to keep the dust down
WINTER AIR, SUMMER HEAT
Statement from the ministry of environment and forests said that civic corporations, DPCC and construction agencies have been alerted to carry out water sprinkling.
Delhi’s air quality read 445 and was classified as “severe”, according to CPCB’s Air Quality Index (AQI), as the all too familiar feelings of irritation in the throat and a burning sensation in the eyes returned to those commuting.
Values between 401 to 500 fall in the “severe” category wherein the air can “affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases”, according to CPCB’s health advisory. Data from CPCB’s central control room showed Delhi’s average PM 10 level peaking at 823 micrograms per cubic metre at 5 pm, eight times the safe standard, while the PM 2.5 level was 216 micrograms per cubic metre at 8 pm. The safe standards for both ultrafine particles are 100 and 60 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively. Delhi had recorded higher PM 10 levels last on November 8 when it had crossed 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre, while PM 2.5 levels were recorded at 805 micrograms per cubic metre.
It was also unusually hot during the day, adding to the misery. Delhi witnessed one of its highest minimum temperatures of the season at 34o C, six degrees above normal. The recorded maximum was 41.2o C.
According to A Sudhakar, member secretary of CPCB, another meeting will be held on Thursday to review the situation. “The IMD has forecast that the activity will continue for the next three days. We will hold a meeting with all agencies and, if these levels continue, emergency action like stopping construction work will be initiated along with stopping the use of hotmix plants and stone-crushers.,” said Sudhakar.
EPCA member Sunita Narain, meanwhile, said the body had written letters to all chief secretaries in NCR about the pollution and asked them to improve sprinkling in their areas. “The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has written a letter to all chief secretaries and environment secretaries in NCR about the pollution levels. PM 10 levels have gone up to 800 micrograms per cubic metres, which is in the ‘severe+’ category under the graded response action plan (GRAP). We understand that this is dust so we have asked agencies to improve sprinkling and control dust right now. We will watch the levels carefully for the next 48 hours,” said Narain.
IIT Kanpur department of civil engineering head Sachchida Nand Tripathi, however, said, “One cannot be certain that this is primarily because of dust from the desert. We need modelling and measurements to evaluate the exact sources. Unpaved roads in NCR could also be contributing significantly. While natural factors cannot be controlled, local sources, fugitive emissions and construction dust need to be curbed. A green belt around cities definitely helps.”