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Delhi's air quality worsens, govt starts campaign to check dust pollution

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai launched ‘Advanced Green War Room’ for 24x7 monitoring and robust implementation of Winter Action Plan, in New Delhi on Monday (ANI)Premium
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai launched ‘Advanced Green War Room’ for 24x7 monitoring and robust implementation of Winter Action Plan, in New Delhi on Monday (ANI)

Delhi recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 211 on Wednesday, highest reading since 25 June of this yearIn order to ensure that construction sites are adhering to pollution standards, a month-long anti-dust campaign was launched in Delhi on Thursday

Delhi's Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that the government will start a month-long campaign to check dust pollution at construction sites from Thursday. Under the anti-dust campaign, 586 teams from 12 govt departments will monitor pollution norms' compliance at construction sites in Delhi, he added.

This comes after Delhi recorded a ‘poor’ Air Quality index of 211 on Wednesday. It is a sharp increase from the moderate reading of 150 the day before.

The campaign has been started as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to combat pollution, according to the minister, who spoke at a press conference at his home in Civil Lines.

These teams will conduct surprise inspections at construction sites to check whether they are complying with the pollution norms.

According to the regulations, construction sites larger than 5,000 square metres (sqm) will need to set up one anti-smog gun, those larger than 10,000 sqm, two anti-smog guns, and sites larger than 15,000 sqm, three anti-smog guns.

Similarly, sites bigger than 20,000 sqm will have to engage four anti-smog guns to combat dust pollution.

Air quality of the capital is deteriorating

Delhi recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 211 on Wednesday, according to the 4 pm bulletin of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). This was the highest reading since 25 June of this year, when the AQI was 230, and a sharp increase from the moderate reading of 150.

An AQI between 101 and 200 is categorised as moderate, and one between 201 and 300 as poor.

Slow winds and local emissions are impacting Delhi’s air quality and pushing the AQI higher. In addition to that, Diwali is around the corner accompanied by the season of stubble burning. This will put Delhi's weather conditions in a tight spot.

Smoke from crackers and stubble burning trapped under the denser winds of lower temperature with winter approaching can cause immense harm to the health of Delhites, thus the government will have to take harsher mitigation measures.

Graded Response Action Plan

Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) is a set of anti-air pollution measures followed in the national capital and its vicinity according to the severity of the situation.

GRAP prescribes a list of curbs when air pollution levels in Delhi hit certain trigger points. The restrictions get stricter as AQI worsens.

At present the AQI is in stage 1 mitigation level of GRAP.  Under this stage, multiple measures will have to be enforced on the ground: Agencies must sprinkle water on roads and sweep them with machines; work must be stopped at all construction and demolition projects with an area of over 500 square metres that have not registered themselves on the state government’s web portal; fines are levied on construction and demolition (C&D) sites, among other measures.

Stage 2 is imposed when it is “very poor" (between 301 and 400), stage 3 when it is “severe" (between 401 and 450), and stage 4 when AQI is in “severe plus" (above 450).

Other measures to curb pollution

Earlier in a meeting on 29 September, Environment Minister Gopal Rai had declared that petrol and diesel will not be provided without PUC (pollution under control) certificate at petrol pumps in the national capital from 25 October.

He had also stated the Delhi government will launch its 24X7 war room on October 3 to combat pollution and ensure effective and serious implementation of amended Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

On 30 September, Delhi's Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a 15-point Winter Action Plan in order to curb air pollution in Delhi.

Kejriwal during his address said, 2 crore people of Delhi have taken many measures to get rid of pollution in association with AAP government.

The Chief Minister also said, the Delhi government is hoping to work with neighbouring cities of NCR, the Centre and the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) to curb air pollution.

(With inputs from agencies)

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