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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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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)