Tuesday November 19, 2019
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Delhi air pollution: 29 red alert days in November

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Air pollution
source: dubeat.com

New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality was so poor in the month of November this year that according to China’s pollution warning system, 29 days of the 30 would have been termed as ‘red alert’ days.

A red alert is issued in China if there are more than 350 micrograms of coarse particulate matter (PM10) in one cubic metre.

According to Greenpeace India’s analysis of the National Air Quality Index, the period of September to November in Delhi had 33 such days, 29 of which were in November.

While the standard level of PM10 per cubic meter is 100 micrograms, the monitoring station at Anand Vihar recorded the level at 1,433 micrograms earlier in the week. That is a staggering 14 times more than the average level of particulates.

A red alert in China shuts down polluting industries and schools, while vehicular pollution is strictly checked and directives issued. A similar system in India is being called forth by activists.

Greenpeace India campaigner, Sunil Dahiya said, “We have monitoring stations and the data is available on the government’s sites. But, the average citizens are not aware of the data. There is a need for an alarm system.”

India’s own governmental data showed that several cities in North India were in worse shape than Beijing, added Dahiya.

“We can no longer deny that we are in a state of crisis, and equally, that this crisis creates the imperative to come up with policies to put an end to India’s air pollution crisis,” said Dahiya.

Both national and regional plans are required on a long-term basis to truly affect the growing pollution crisis, according to environmentalists. The general population needs to be made aware of the crisis so that a collective effort can come into place.

“The Delhi Government’s car rationing policy and move to shut down power plants will reduce pollution, but we need to move to renewable energy,” added Dahiya.

 

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Experts Advocate Airshed Management To Tackle Pollution

Experts have advocated airshed management to tackle pollution as air pollution is severe

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Air pollution
Airshed management will be helping in tackling air pollution. Pixabay

Amid pollution turning into a serious national issue and the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) largely staying limited to Delhi, experts here on Monday advocated airshed management to tackle pollution.

These experts and pollution control boards officials were participating in a panel discussion, organised by Climate Trends, a Delhi-based climate communications initiative, to map the pathway for regional cooperation and coordination to tackle the crisis.

Sagnik Dey, Associate Professor at IIT-Delhi and Coordinator for the Centre for Excellence for Research for Clean Air (CERCA), said, “We live in the age of data, yet there is no air pollution data for the entire rural India.”

To address the problem of air pollution comprehensively, Dey said, “We need to delineate airsheds based on wind flows and their pollutant reach. The city action plans should be integrated with the larger airshed management strategy to to deal with the problem.”

Haryana, despite not being included in the NCAP, is the only state that has made an action plan for Gurugram that will include 300 km of the surrounding area as shared airshed where pollution transfer happens.

The entire NCAP rested on the Central Pollution Control Board and the state pollution control boards but their resource and capacity must be evaluated and enhanced, Dey said. “Monitoring and compliance are key to success. Unless the central, state and municipal bodies work in tandem, we will return to these pollution spikes each year,” Dey said.

Delhi, air Polltuion
To address the problem of air pollution comprehensively, airsheds based on wind flows and their pollutant reach need to be delineated. Pixabay

Analysis of November 1-15 data from urban sciences across 26 cities in the Indo-Gangetic Plain showed that nine cities were in severe air quality category, including satellite towns like Ghaziabad and Noida, with Delhi ranked fifth behind Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida.

A 2012 study by IIT-Delhi mapped the aerosol transfer across the Indo-Gangetic region, making it the world’s most polluted hotspot — stretching from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, UP, Bihar and all the way to West Bengal.

Haryana with five of the 10 most polluted cities in this study, has no city listed amongst the 102+20 NCAP cities.

The analysis further highlighted how Gurugram, spread across 732 sq km, has two monitoring stations against 35 in Delhi, which has double the area of its neighbour.

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Ronak Sutaria, CEO, Urban Sciences, said, “It’s going to be a challenge to scale up monitoring to 1,000 monitors in the country as per the NCAP due to cost. But that too is not enough as all studies say 4,000-6,000 monitors are needed for adequate coverage.”

The Indo-Gangetic plain has a complex set of topographical and meteorological conditions that produce a land-locked valley effect. These conditions are monitored for forecast, though the lack of adequate set of monitoring devices and suitable presentation for ease of understanding have limited the ability of the responsible agencies to act proactively. (IANS)