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New NGT directives include stay-at-home warnings for elderly & kids

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Looking to issue “immediate advisories” to the public by Thursday, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday ordered the Delhi government to identify “critically polluted areas.

Due to all Delhi areas “consistently” showing high pollution according to the Air Quality Index (AQI), the NGT bench issued a series of directives towards curbing the capital’s pollution.

The agencies which failed to submit their compliance reports were given a December 11 deadline. The tribunal also ordered all concerned departmental heads and the secretaries of the environment and health departments to be present on the day.

The bench which was headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar asked: “What are you doing about creating public awareness about critically polluted areas?”

Among the advisories issued by the bench, is a suggestion that children and elderly should not come out of their houses during “high pollution” hours.

The Environment Secretary of the Delhi government was directed by the NGT bench to meet the Member-Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), along with the Director-General (Health Services) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), on Wednesday to implement the plans properly.

It was later confirmed by government officials that due to the absence of CPCB representatives from CPCB and health services, no decisions could be taken.

The committee would be addressing Anand Vihar and ITO as they have been identified as critically polluted areas in Delhi.

The detailed order of NGT was not available at the time of going to press but Advocate Vardhaman Kaushik asked the government to look into pollution from “other sources” rather than just from vehicles, waste-burning or construction. His plea was heard by the NGT bench.

After Vardhaman identified diesel generators as a fourth major source of pollution, the NGT asked the DPCC to record details of such generators in Delhi and find out how many follow the emission protocols.

An investigation conducted by The Indian Express on the Delhi air quality through its ‘Death by Breath’ series had brought up several important issues to the fore. Taking these into account, the NGT, on April 7, banned from Delhi diesel vehicles older than 10 years and petrol vehicles older than 15 years.

The tribunal also ordered for the AQI to be kept under constant observation, along with ensuring a ban on construction waste dumping. Commercial vehicles which are not destined for Delhi would also be diverted. On this issue, the Haryana government informed that alternative routes via NH-71A and NH-71 were being showed to 6,000-7,000 diverted at Panipat.

The Centre may also order for a limit on the number of vehicles sold in the capital each year.

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Researchers Develop New Framework To Select Best Trees For Fighting Air Pollution

Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth

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Trees
In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads.

In a study, published in the journal Climate and Atmospheric Science, researchers from the University of Surrey conducted a wide-ranging literature review of research on the effects of green infrastructure (trees and hedges) on air pollution.

“We are all waking up to the fact that air pollution and its impact on human health and the health of our planet is the defining issue of our time,” said study researcher Prashant Kumar, Professor at the University of Surrey in the UK. “Air pollution is responsible for one in every nine deaths each year and this could be intensified by projected population growth,” Kumar added.

The review found that there is ample evidence of green infrastructure’s ability to divert and dilute pollutant plumes or reduce outdoor concentrations of pollutants by direct capture, where some pollutants are deposited on plant surfaces.

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As part of their critical review, the researchers identified a gap in information to help people – including urban planners, landscape architects and garden designers – make informed decisions on which species of vegetation to use and, crucially, what factors to consider when designing a green barrier. To address this knowledge gap, they identified 12 influential traits for 61 tree species that make them potentially effective barriers against pollution.

Beneficial plant properties include small leaf size, high foliage density, long in-leaf periods (e.g. evergreen or semi-evergreen), and micro-characteristics such as leaf hairiness. Generally detrimental aspects of plants for air quality include wind pollination and biogenic volatile organic compound emissions.

Air Pollution, Global Warming, Mask, Doctor, Protection
Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have developed a new framework for selecting the best trees for fighting air pollution that originates from our roads. Pixabay

In the study, the team emphasised that the effectiveness of a plant is determined by its environmental context – whether, for example, it will be used in a deep (typical of a city commercial centre) or shallow (typical of a residential road) street canyon or in an open road environment.

To help concerned citizens with complex decisions, such as which tree is best for a road outside a school in a medium-sized street canyon, the research team has also developed a plant selection framework. “The use of green infrastructure as physical barriers between ourselves and pollutants originating from our roads is one promising way we can protect ourselves from the devastating impact of air pollution,” Kumar said.

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“We hope that our detailed guide to vegetation species selection and our contextual advice on how to plant and use green infrastructure is helpful to everyone looking to explore this option for combatting pollution,” he added. (IANS)