New Delhi: There seems to be no respite from high air, water and noise pollution levels in the national capital. The levels recorded in 2015 across the national capital by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India’s apex pollution watchdog, were found to be breaching safe limits almost at all times.

As per the air quality monitoring at 10 stations across the national capital in 2015, the levels of particulate matter-10 (PM10) were above safe limits.

According to data collected by the CPCB, the air quality at six major stations was of poor quality, and moderate at three others. Moderate and poor air quality means 2-6 times the safe limit. The exposure to such high levels can lead to breathing discomfort to people with asthma and lung and heart diseases and breathing discomfort to most people, even who are healthy, after prolonged exposure.

Air pollution is caused by a number of pollutants such as ozone, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, methane, sulphur dioxide, benzene and mercury. But the key pollutants in Delhi—and probably the deadliest—are PM2.5 and PM10. These fine particles can settle deep in the lungs and can even be absorbed in our bloodstream, which can lead to increased respiratory and cardiovascular diseases among people.

Similarly, noise pollution levels crossed the safe limit at all 10 locations where they were monitored both during the day (6am to 10pm) and at night (10pm to 6am).

Monitoring stations in areas like Punjabi Bagh (west Delhi) and Mandir Marg (central Delhi) were found to be the most affected with noise pollution, with levels way above the prescribed limits.

The Union government was preparing new noise pollution standards, but poor implementation of existing standards has been one of the reasons behind its delay.

The water pollution levels, as per CPCB, were also high across the city.

“The main challenges to control pollution in Delhi NCR includes emission from automobiles, suspension of dust, construction activities, industrial emission and disposal of untreated and partially treated sewage. Considering these challenges, the government has held regular co-ordination meetings with the state governments of NCR states, including Delhi," said environment minister Prakash Javadekar, while replying to a query in Rajya Sabha on Monday.

Javadekar also recounted a slew of measures taken to control pollution in the national capital like notification of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), launch of Air Quality Index (AQI), decision to leapfrog directly from BS-IV to BS-VI fuel standards by 1 April 2020 and preparation of an action plan for sewage management and restoration of water quality in aquatic resources by the state governments.

“The various steps including launching of AQI (Air Quality Index) have contributed in controlling pollution in NCR including Delhi. But for the various steps taken by Central Government, Governments of NCR States and Delhi, the level of pollution in National Capital Region would have been worse," Javadekar added.

NCR states include Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab.

CPCB, in collaboration with state pollution control boards, monitors air quality, water quality and noise levels across the country under the National Air Quality Monitoring Programme (NAMP), National Water Quality Monitoring Programme (NWMP) and National Ambient Noise Monitoring Network (NANMN), respectively.

The NAMP network comprises of 612 operating monitoring stations located in 254 cities and towns, while the NWMP network comprises of 2,500 locations covering 445 rivers, 154 lakes, 12 tanks, 78 ponds, 25 canals, 41 creeks, 45 drains, 10 water treatment plants and 807 groundwater wells across India. The NANMN network, however, covers only seven metro cities.

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