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NGT slams Delhi govt for pollution menace. Here is how badly the city is choked

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 13 February 2017, 11:27 IST

With the national capital engulfed in smog, the National Green Tribunal on 2 December slammed Delhi government for not acting "seriously" to improve deteriorating air quality in the city and directed it to convene an urgent meeting on the issue.

A bench, headed by National Green Tribunal chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, comprising the Secretary, Environment and Forest Department, the Health Secretary and the Chairman and member secretary of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) will hold an emergency meeting on 2 December.

The green panel also directed the Delhi government to issue a notification within a week with regard to areas in the capital which are the most polluted and to enumerate steps needed to check air pollution.

Choked with smoke

  • Delhi witnessed one of its worst smog of the season this week, with visibility remaining less than 800 metres through 30 November.
  • PM 2.5 levels were in the 'severe' category in many parts of the city, with the most polluted spot, Anand Vihar, showing levels up to 530 mcg/cubic m between 2.30pm and 8pm.
  • The pollution reading in Delhi has been 500 units since 30 November - the maximum that can be recorded by the scales of Pollution Control Board. It means that the level of particulate matter in Delhi's air is at least 10 to 16 times higher than what is considered safe.
  • Many residents have been complaining of a choking feeling as a white smog hung in the air through 20 November.This month the air quality of the city has dropped significantly.
  • "Monday morning saw the densest fog of the season in Delhi. In November, such thick fog usually forms only after rain, when moisture levels go up. Since there has been no rain, it's likely that high pollution, combined with moisture and absence of winds caused the fog," R K Jenamani, director of Met office at IGI Airport told the Times of India.

Monitoring woes

  • The presence of particulate matter in the air - which is high due to consumption of fossil fuel like coal - increases during the Delhi winter due to copious burning of leaves, rubber and garbage.
  • Despite being labelled by the WHO as the world's most polluted city, there's no protocol in Delhi for warning residents when pollution levels spike. PM 2.5 levels at individual air monitoring stations have in the past few days crossed the 600 mark.

Seeking solutions

  • The AAP government, meanwhile, is looking to citizens for fresh ideas. The Delhi Dialogue Commission and the University of Chicago have started a joint venture and a first-of-its-kind competition focused on improving air quality by soliciting ideas from citizens.
  • The collaboration is an attempt at generating ideas to improve Delhi's air and water quality.
  • The centerpiece of this partnership is Urban Labs Innovation Challenge, Delhi. This competition is designed to build a toolkit of innovative projects proposed by local institutions and tapping into grassroots expertise. The innovation challenge will reportedly identify the best ideas and provide them with funding to pilot these ideas into sustainable businesses. The funding for the project will be a minimum of Rs 2 crore.
First published: 2 December 2015, 5:38 IST