Pollution level in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) has reached a severe level as the overall air quality index breached the 464-mark on Tuesday. The data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) says the air quality in the NCR areas has also deteriorated to the lowest level, which can be hazardous for health. The Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) also showed an AQI (Air Quality Index) of 468 for Delhi. On Monday, as many as 32 areas in the city recorded 'severe' air quality while it was 'very poor' in five areas, the CPCB data showed.
Air quality in Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, and Gurugram was marked as 'severe' and 'very poor' with the AQI level falling between 444 and 464, says the CPSB data for Tuesday. The overall PM2.5 level -- fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometre -- was recorded at 407 and the PM10 level at 581 here, the CPCB said. Both these levels can cause respiratory illness on prolonged exposure and can seriously impact those with existing diseases, suggest experts.
Any respite from poor air quality is unlikely due to the high level of humidity in the air, coupled with slow wind and extremely cold condition in the northern part of the country. Moreover, if the temperature keeps on dipping like this, the Delhi-NCR regions could see pollutants in the air souring.
As per the global air quality monitoring platform AirVisual, Delhi's pollution at the 'hazardous' level with 317 US AQI (Air Quality Index) with PM2.5 air pollution. The platform placed Delhi on the second spot in the list of most polluted cities in the world after Lahore in Pakistan. Besides Delhi, Kolkata and Mumbai have also been listed in the top 10 polluted cities, with AQI level of 255 and 193, respectively. Other cities having several levels of air pollution include Dhaka, Bangladesh (AQI 288) and Kabul (264).
Based on the CPCB task force recommendations, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) had shut down industries located in hotspot industrial areas of Wazirpur, Mundka, Narela, Bawana, Sahibabad and Faridabad and halted construction activities across Delhi-NCR till Wednesday. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee said the ban comes into force from Monday itself and it is sending letters to industries and construction authorities to immediately halt the activities. The EPCA directed the traffic police to deploy special teams and ensure congestion-free traffic flow, particularly in identified high traffic corridors. The agencies concerned have also been asked to ensure strict action against illegal industries, intensify ground action and make all efforts to control polluting activities, particularly waste burning.
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Union Environment Secretary CK Mishra said this is a "temporary phase" caused by unfavourable meteorological conditions and insisted that measures to tackle it was on in "full swing". "This is a temporary phase, largely because of meteorological conditions over Delhi and the surrounding areas. It is not as if the level of emissions has suddenly gone up," he told reporters at a press conference.