Delhi air quality remains very poor; stubble burning in Uttar Pradesh recorded for first time this season

Delhi’s air pollution level dipped slightly on Friday to remain in the “very poor” category as authorities detected stubble burning in Uttar Pradesh for the first time this season after Punjab and Haryana which they said may add to the pollution woes of the national capital.

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), an institute under the Earth Sciences Ministry, said the highest fire count was observed from the north-west region of India, which comprises Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana and parts of Uttar Pradesh.

As authorities warned that the air quality would severely deteriorate from next week, a citizen’s group shot off a letter to the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA), suggesting additional steps that could be taken to curb pollution, which included putting in public domain emission levels from all industries in Delhi-NCR and urging employers to encourage office-goers to work from home till November 10.

The South Delhi Municipal Corporation said around 1,582 challans were issued for violations in the zones under it. Deputy commissioners of 14 police districts in the national capital were directed to ensure no temporary licences are issued for sale of firecrackers till the PESO-approved crackers were available in the market.

Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot on Friday launched a trial run of an e-bus and said the Delhi government had plans to float tenders for 1,000 electric buses by December so that the zero-emission vehicles are rolled out in the next five to six months.

The Delhi Traffic Police on Thursday fined 315 vehicles for plying without valid Pollution Under Control Certificate (PUCC), a senior police officer said.

The overall Air Quality Index of the national capital was recorded at 370, which falls in the “very poor” category, according to data by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The PM2.5 level was recorded at 210. Fine particulates can be a matter of more serious health concern than PM10 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres). As per data issued by the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the PM10 level in Delhi stood at 334.

Wazirpur, Sonia Vihar and Ashok Vihar recorded “severe” quality air while 28 other areas recorded “very poor” air quality, according to the CPCB data. Faridabad recorded an AQI of 406, which falls in the “severe” category, while Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Noida and Greater Noida recorded “very poor” air quality.

An official said there was special focus on the regions recording “severe” quality air and teams deployed to monitor violations were conducting inspections at various such sites to check incidents of garbage or industrial waste burning.

Stubble burning incidents were recorded from Uttar Pradesh on Friday for the first time this season after Punjab and Haryana where such practice is rampant, the SAFAR said.

An official said that this was the first time this season that stubble burning was detected in Uttar Pradesh.

The IITM said there was no possibility of improvement in the air quality over the next two days. “Contribution from biomass fire is likely to be marginal on Friday and further for the next two days. Because of poor dispersion and stagnant meteorological conditions, no significant improvement is likely for the next two days,” it said.

Pollution control authorities said the AQI of Delhi would remain in the upper range of the “very poor” category till November 5, and thereafter, it could see severe deterioration due to unfavourable meteorological conditions.

According to the SAFAR, 9 per cent of PM2.5 pollution in Delhi is caused due to stubble burning.

There is a halt on all construction activities involving excavation. Civil construction has also been suspended in Delhi and other NCR districts, besides closure of all stone crushers and hot mix plants generating dust pollution.

MyRightToBreathe, a citizen’s group, Friday said it has committed itself to behavioural change in people to help curb air pollution. In a statement, the group said it has sent a letter to the Supreme Court-appointed EPCA, urging it take additional steps to curb pollution level in the city.

The group has suggested to the EPCA to ask employers to encourage office-goers to “work from home” till November 10. It claimed that waste-to-energy system in the region is “not well regulated” and suggested its closure till November 10.

In a meeting held on Thursday, Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik directed all DCPs to ensure that Supreme Court guidelines on pollution control are implemented fully.
There were a total of 4,385 such cases in October, Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Alok Kumar said.

Around 177 vehicles were fined for carrying uncovered building material and amount of Rs 3,54,000 collected as penalty in October.

At the border check-posts of Delhi, a total of 70,480 vehicles were checked, out of which 1,738 vehicles, which were not destined for Delhi, were made to turn back and take other routes to reach their destinations, Kumar said.

So far this year till 31 October, a total of 1,89,290 vehicles were checked and 391 of those were impounded as they were “over-age”, he said.

Further, to decongest city roads, reduce the travel time of motorists, save fuel and reduce pollution, a total of 10,23,156 vehicles were fined for obstructive and improper parking, the joint commissioner of police said.

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