Meanwhile, the central government held a meeting with senior officials from Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi government on measures to tackle air pollution in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR).
Pulling up the state governments, Environment Secretary A.N. Jha held weak enforcement mechanism for pollution control responsible for alarming air quality in NCR. He reviewed the steps being taken by these states to curb air pollution.
“States are required to strictly enforce the measures laid out by the CPCB last year. Those instructions have to be made functional. All states have taken separate steps,” Jha told media persons here.
Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave also said that he would hold a meeting with the ministers of the neighbouring states over the issue of air pollution.
The call came as Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to alarming levels and witnessed its worst smog situation in 17 years on Wednesday and Thursday. On Wednesday, the levels were 9.4 times the standard norms.
Meanwhile, the air quality of Delhi and Gurgaon ‘luckily’ improved, as light wind from Rajasthan helped disperse the smog and particle pollutants in the air.
As per official data, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi improved from 432, labelled ‘severe’ on Thursday and Wednesday, to 372 labelled ‘very poor’ on Friday. The AQI of Gurgaon also improved from 454 on Thursday to 263 on Friday.
However, the AQI of Faridabad worsened further from 427 on Thursday to an alarming 453 on Friday. As per weather experts, low wind speed and local emissions could be the reasons for that.
According to data from the Indian Meteorological Department and private weather forecaster Skymet, wind speed on Friday was 8-10 km per hour, while on Thursday and Wednesday it was nill. Due to this, besides some other factors, the smog in Delhi brought down the air quality to alarming levels.
“Winds from Rajasthan dispersed the pollutants. Wind speed would improve slightly more and by November 7 is expected to increase up to 20 km/hour,” Maheash Palwat, Skymet Director, told IANS.
As per Palwat, had the light winds come from the direction of Punjab, this would have had increased troubles for Delhi because of the paddy stubble burning in Punjab.
The Environment Secretary said, “Stubble burning has been controlled to a large extent except in Punjab where few cases of burning had surfaced.”
Contradicting that, however, experts hold that unending burning of paddy stubble in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, low winds and pollution during Diwali and other sources of pollution, along with weather-related factors led to such abnormal air quality and smog levels in Delhi.
“Satellite images have showed that paddy burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh have increased after Diwali, which contributed to the severe smog in the national capital,” the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said in a statement.
Experts also suggest the ailing persons to stay indoors and cautioned people to avoid outdoor exercises for a few days.
The Central government on Friday asked the states to strictly enforce the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB)’s 42-point order issued last year in December. The order contains short, medium and long-term measures to control pollution by curbing crop burning, open garbage burning, among others.
The Centre also asked the Delhi government to regulate flyash from the Badarpur power plant. The National Thermal Power Corporation will also be instructed for the same.
Jha said that as emergency steps, the CPCB will limit industries emitting air pollutants and close the brick kilns around Delhi, if required.
“The CPCB Chairman will keep reviewing all these developments with the states. The Centre has also called for regular monitoring and reviewing of pollution control check points for accurate certification,” Jha added.
Meanwhile, the National Green Tribunal has pulled up the Delhi government on the issue of air pollution and sough explanation by November 8.
The Delhi government, on its part, has directed the Delhi Pollution Control Committee to explore the possibility to engage an expert agency to study reasons and recommend remedial steps to counter air pollution.