The toxic mix of low wind speed, dipping temperature and dust, vehicular emissions, smouldering waste, wood or coal as well as stubble burning in farms around the National Capital Region has — as has been seen around the onset of winter in the past many years — once again engulfed the area into a thick blanket of smog. On Tuesday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) crossed the 400 mark to plunge into the ‘severe’ category for some time. Not only is this high level of AQI critical for those suffering from respiratory ailments, but also harmful for healthy people.
Amid criticism for this grave annual feature that has earned Delhi the notoriety of being among the most polluted cities in the world, a couple of remedial steps initiated since 2021 by the authorities to tackle pollution and offset its dangerous consequences serve as some relief to the distressed residents gasping for clean air. One, the daily recording of AQI and its forecast. Two, the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) designed to deal with any oncoming critical stage of pollution. The strict implementation of the two measures is essential for desirable outcomes and calls for coordination between the various agencies involved in dust-fighting operations.
Even as the Commission for Air Quality Management had last week warned of the rising air pollution, Delhi on Wednesday pressed stage three of GRAP meant to combat the crisis of ‘very poor’ category (AQI of 300-400). Pertinently, it entails stopping the dust-emitting construction work and more frequent use of water sprinklers and anti-smog guns to battle the particles suspended in air. The Delhi Government has announced a compensation of Rs 5,000 per month for the construction workers. With the average AQI of the NCR hovering around the ‘severe’ category, the residents would do well for their own health to heed to the Delhi Environment Minister’s advice by resorting to car-pooling or public transport and reporting violations of construction/burning bans; just as they earlier contributed to the city recording the best post-Diwali air quality in seven years — even though it was still ‘very poor’ — with a reduction in firecracker use. Every little step counts.
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