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Delhi Air in ‘very poor’ area, smoke from Punjab farm fire could push it to ‘severe’


By PTI IST (Released)

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VK Soni, head of the Indian Meteorological Department’s Environmental Research and Monitoring Centre, said a layer of smog persisted in Delhi NCR on Saturday under adverse weather conditions and is likely to persist for two days of more. Some respite is likely from Tuesday.

Delhi recorded its air quality in the ‘very poor’ category on Sunday morning and forecasters said slow wind speeds and an increase in stubble burning, particularly in Punjab, could push it into the ‘severe’ zone. “.

With pollution levels worsening, the Centre’s air quality panel on Saturday ordered authorities to ban construction and demolition activities in Delhi-NCR except in essential projects, and further restrictions under Phase III of the Graduated Response Action Plan.

Delhi’s overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 367 as of 9 a.m. The average 24-hour AQI on Saturday was 397, the worst since January. It was 354 Thursday, 271 Wednesday, 302 Tuesday and 312 Monday (Diwali).

Anand Vihar (AQI 468) was the most polluted place in the capital. Wazirpur (412), Vivek Vihar (423) and Jahangirpuri (407) were among the monitoring stations which recorded “severe” air quality.

VK Soni, head of the Indian Meteorological Department’s Environmental Research and Monitoring Centre, said a layer of smog persisted in Delhi NCR on Saturday under adverse weather conditions and is likely to persist for two days of more. Some respite is likely from Tuesday.

SAFAR, a forecasting agency under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, said stubble burning’s share of Delhi’s pollution rose to 21% on Saturday, the highest this year till here.

It could increase by up to 40% on Sunday and push air quality into the severe zone, said Gufran Beig, founding project manager of SAFAR.

Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai will chair a high-level meeting on Sunday to discuss measures to be implemented under GRAP Phase III. The GRAP is a set of anti-air pollution measures followed in the capital and its surroundings depending on the seriousness of the situation.

It classifies the air quality in Delhi NCR into four different stages: Stage I – “Poor” (AQI 201-300); Stage II – “Very low” (AQI 301-400); Stage III – “Severe” (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘Severe Plus’ (AQI > 450).

Under Phase III, authorities have been urged to enforce a strict ban on construction and demolition activities in the NCR, except for essential projects and non-polluting activities such as plumbing, carpentry, interior decoration and electrical work.

The construction ban will not apply to projects concerning national security, defence, railways and metro among others. However, it is likely to affect housing projects in Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurugram and other regions. Mining activities will not be permitted in the area.

The next stage in the “Severe Plus” category or Stage IV may include measures such as a ban on entry of trucks into Delhi, allowing 50% of staff to work from home in public, municipal and private schools, the closure of educational establishments and the circulation of vehicles on an even-odd basis, etc.


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