The Centre has finally taken cognizance of the alarming levels of pollution in North India, especially Delhi. Centre summoned government representatives of 5 northern states on November 4, after the capital recorded PM2.5 levels nearly 21 times higher than permissible limits on Sunday, the day of Diwali.
Governments of Punjab, Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh have been summoned over enforcing ban on stubble burning.
Centre’s move decision comes on a day the Central Pollution Control Board released its report on air quality of Delhi.
The permissible limit for PM 2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic metre. Pitampura in North Delhi recorded the maximum at 1,238 micrograms per cubic metre on Diwali, which is 20.63 times higher than the permissible limits.
As per the report, PM 2.5 levels on the day of Diwali (October 30) across each of the 11 pollution monitoring centres revealed that PM2.5 was 4 times to 12 times higher of what they were the week before (October 24).
When compared to the previous week, Pitampura recorded 12 times higher PM 2.5 levels, while Parivesh Bhavan Centre in East Delhi recorded 11.4 times higher PM 2.5 levels.
At Janakpuri, PM 2.5 levels were 8.7 times higher and at ITO, PM 2.5 levels were 7.6 times higher.
On this Diwali, as compared to last year, PM 2.5 levels were 2-4.5 times higher and PM 10 levels were 1.5-3 times higher.
The Environment Ministry has attributed the spike in pollution levels to four main factors.
“It has been observed that open burning of solid waste in and around Delhi, vehicular emissions in Delhi, dust by the roadside and around construction sites in Delhi and stubble burning of crop residue in neighbouring states of Delhi are major contributors to pollution in Delhi,” said a release by the Ministry.
“The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has summoned the concerned secretaries on 4th November to review the situation and to further deliberate on the strategy to minimise occurrences of open burning in agriculture fields,” the statement added.
It has also been decided that CPCB will direct local bodies in and around Delhi to check open burning of solid waste and strictly enforce rules related to prevention of gaseous emission from construction activities.
CPCB will also instruct public road owning agencies in Delhi to ensure that roadsides are watered periodically suspension of dust.
Delhi Police, too, will be required to streamline movement of traffic at busy intersections so that pollution due to vehicular emissions is minimised.
Pollution peaks in the national capital during Diwali as a hazardous mix of noxious gases and respirable pollutants hang very close to the surface due to low temperature and near-stagnant wind movement.
Smoke emanating from farm fires raging across agricultural fields of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana only worsens the situation.
(With inputs from PTI)