The Indian Medical Association has urged Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to declare a state of public health emergency as the city woke up to a dense cover of smog. While the smog had started setting in from Monday evening, Tuesday morning experienced a severe level of air pollution. According to reports, areas in Delhi-NCR witnessed AQIs as high as 446 at around 9:30 am on Tuesday. The lowest AQI was recorded in Gurgaon at the same time. It was 357 and is categorised as 'very poor'.
West Delhi, especially areas near Shadipur saw an AQI of 446, with the primary pollutant being PM2.5. Anand Vihar, like always had very poor air quality and recorded an AQI of 405 at 9:30 am, with the primary pollutant here being PM10.
In fact, 12 out of 19 monitoring stations in NCR recorded severe air quality levels. Even CM Kejriwal could not refrain himself from calling the city a gas chamber.
According to reports, visibility in and around the city was also quite low. According to MET officials, visibility dropped to 400 m at 8 am in the morning. Due to low visibility there were long traffic jams on the roads and even on the DND Flyway and the Greater Noida Expressway.
Quite a few flights and trains have been impacted by low visibility. Multple flights were delayed and one flight on its way from Lucknow had to be diverted to Jaipur. As many as 33 inbound trains were delayed by three hours or more.
IMA president Dr KK Aggarwal advised people to stay indoors and recommended that schools be shut for a couple of days. CM Kejriwal also urged Deputy CM Manish Sisodia to consider getting schools to shut for a couple of days.
The IMA has also called for the cancellation of the Delhi Half Marathon as the race begins early morning when the pollution is at its highest. Title sponsor, Airtel, has also hinted that it might sever its association with the marathon if the authorities refrained from addressing the issue of air pollution.
In fact, according to latest reports the parking fee has been hiked four times in Delhi to dissuade people from using their cars. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) that has also recommended that Delhi Metro fares be reduced for off-peak hours for at least 10 hours.
The panel also recommended a fine of Rs 50,000 on construction agencies that are violating dust pollution norms in Delhi-NCR. EPCA also recommended that Odd-Even scheme be brought back.
Although schemes like Odd-Even, temporarily shutting of power plants and banning sale of crackers during Diwali are few of the steps taken by the government and the Supreme Court, it is quite evident that more stringent measures need to be taken to curb pollution. The severity of Delhi's pollution is compounded by the practice of burning crop stubble by farmers in northern India. Add to that the fact that there have been practically no winds in Delhi has led to this severe condition.
It remains to be seen if these additional measures will have any effect on Delhi's air quality.
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