Air Quality Delhi-NCR

CAQM Lifts Ban On Entry Of Heavy Vehicles To NCR As Air Quality Improves

In view of the improvement in the overall air quality of the Delhi-NCR in the past few days, a Central government panel revoked Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) stage 4, which means that there is no ban on entry of trucks and non-BS 6 diesel light motor vehicles are allowed. But ban on non-essential construction activities which come under GRAP-3 now in force would continue.

The GRAP is an emergency response action plan invoked with a view to arrest further deterioration of adverse air quality scenarios in NCR.
GRAP stage 3 still remains invoked. So, ban on construction and demolition activities in the entire NCR region except for railway services, metro rail services including stations and other essential activities will continue.

According to the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (CAQM), “Under Stage III State Governments in NCR/ GNCTD may impose restrictions on BS III petrol and BS IV diesel LMVS (4 wheelers). Choose a cleaner commute — share a ride to work or use public transport or walk or cycle.”

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai will chair a meeting on Monday to discuss revoking of 50 per cent of work from home and re-opening primary schools after the orders issued by the Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (CAQM) today.

Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry in a statement said, “While comprehensively reviewing the overall air quality parameters of Delhi-NCR, the Commission noted that due to forecast by IMD/ IITM not indicating any steep degradation in the overall air quality of Delhi-NCR in the coming days, it is advisable to relax the restrictions and further roll back Stage IV of GRAP with immediate effect in the entire NCR”.

According to CAQM, the present AQI level of Delhi is around 339 which is about 111 AQI

points below the threshold for invoking the GRAP Stage-IV actions (Delhi AQI > 450) and preventive/ mitigative/ restrictive actions under all Stages up to Stage-IV are underway, there is a likelihood of sustaining the improvement in AQI. The forecast by IMD/ IITM also does not indicate any steep degradation further.

The forecasts also indicated a significant improvement around November 5 and November 6, 2022, therefore, the sub-Committee while invoking Stage IV of the GRAP, decided to review the situation on November 6, 2022. (ANI)

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stubble burning in punjab

CAQM Reviews Implementation Of Directions To Restrict Stubble-Burning In Punjab

Reviewing the status of implementation of measures directed to restrict stubble burning in Punjab, the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) held a meeting with the Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioners of 22 districts of Punjab except Pathankot (no farm fire incidents reported).

The primary focus of the review meeting was to assess the on-ground implementation of directions and reiterate the need for immediate intensification of actions to put a halt to the sudden spike in stubble-burning cases seen in the last few days in Punjab.
The Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioners of the 22 districts of Punjab were reminded of their earlier commitments of drastically bringing the farm fire counts in 2022 as compared to last year.

The Deputy Commissioners of 10 districts namely Amritsar, Barnala, Bhatinda, Firozpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Tarn Taran, and Patiala where more than 1,000 fire counts are reported, were specifically advised to pay special attention and focus on the implementation of the action plan.

During the review meeting, the Chief Secretary and Deputy Commissioners of the 22 districts of Punjab assured that they will put their best foot forward to substantially bring down the rising farm fire incidents in Punjab.

They also assured that a decline in stubble-burning incidents is expected to be seen in the coming days.

Stubble burning continued unabated in Punjab with the state reporting nearly 24,000 such cases so far, an official said on Friday.

The incidents of stubble burning have seen a rise in parts of Punjab this year in comparison to last year. However, the area of fields burnt has witnessed a drop of 1 percent so far.

Speaking to ANI over the phone, Senior Environmental Engineer of Punjab Pollution Control Board, Gurbakhshish Singh Gill said that 1,144 incidents of stubble burning have taken place in the state till Thursday and 24,146 such incidents in Punjab.

“We are working in coordination with the government. Efforts are on. Farmers are being sensitised. Our teams are monitoring the situation. We are hopeful of the situation being in our control this time,” he said earlier on Thursday.

He attributed various factors to the deterioration in the Air Quality Index (AQI).

“There are various factors responsible for the deteriorating AQI. Stubble burning is one of them, other is Diwali, transportation and other atmospheric conditions,” he said.

Speaking to ANI on Thursday, Deputy Commissioner of Bathinda, Showkat Ahmad Parray said, “Nearly 1,200 incidents have been reported till now. Last year, it was nearly 900 which has increased this time. But the data that comes to us is not right in itself because there is some period during which the satellite does not capture the incidents. So if there is stubble burning taking place during that period, such incidents are not reported to us,” he said.

Pollution has risen in Delhi where the AQI remained in the ‘severe’ category for the second consecutive day. Stubble burning has contributed to 34 percent of Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution.

On Friday morning the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city jumped to 472. Noida, which is part of the national capital region, recorded an AQI of 562, and continued to remain in the ‘severe’ category, while Gurugram’s AQI stood at 539 and continued to remain in the ‘severe’, as per data released by SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) India.

Air Quality Index from 0 to 100 is considered as good, while from 100 to 200 it is moderate, from 200 to 300 it is poor, and from 300 to 400 it is said to be very poor and from 400 to 500 or above it is considered as severe. (ANI)

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Air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

SC To Hear On Nov 10 Plea On Worsening Air Pollution In Delhi-NCR

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to hear on November 10 a plea seeking measures to curb worsening air pollution in Delhi-NCR.

A bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Bela M Trivedi posted the case for hearing on November 10 after an advocate mentioned the matter for urgent hearing.
Advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha, who filed the plea, told the bench that stubble burning has increased in Punjab.

“Parali burning has increased in Punjab. Even normal people can’t walk in such a situation,” Jha argued.

The plea sought direction to summon Chief Secretaries of Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh and directed them to personally take responsibility for no case of stubble burning anywhere.

It sought direction for issuing fresh guidelines to all the States with respect to stubble burning. The plea asked to issue guidelines to each and every State to take necessary measures in order to reduce pollution including the installation of smog towers, plantation drives, affordable public transport, etc.

“Public at large is forced to inhale polluted air and the oxygen filled with smog. Despite the clear orders of this Court to stop stubble burning and construction causing air pollution, there is rampant pollution in the National Capital Territory and other places making it difficult for people to survive,” said the plea adding that the situation is directly against the Right to life of people at large.

The petition said the AQI level on November 3 has been between 440 to 460 across Delhi which as per various sources “affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases”.

An AQI of 400 or higher is considered “severe,” and it can affect both healthy people and those who already have illnesses, it said.

It sought direction for appointing a high-level committee under the chairmanship of a retired Supreme Court judge to tackle the air-pollution crisis due to stubble burning.

The plea further urged that the schools, colleges, government, and private offices go virtual/online in order to protect the life of people at large.

The advocate said that the pollution is caused because states like Punjab have failed to provide an alternative to the farmers against stubble burning.to control pollution. (ANI)

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Delhi: Primary Schools Shuts

Delhi: Primary Schools Shut Till Pollution Improves

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday said that primary schools in Delhi will be shut from tomorrow till the pollution situation improves.

“We’re taking all steps to control the pollution situation. In lieu of that, we’re shutting down all primary schools in Delhi from tomorrow… Also shutting down outdoor activities for all classes above class 5,” CM Kejriwal said.
Kejriwal was addressing a press conference here with his Punjab counterpart Bhagwant Mann.

“We’re also mulling whether the odd-even scheme for vehicles should be implemented,” Kejriwal said.

The Delhi chief minister also said that now was “not the time for blame game and finger pointing”.

Air Quality in the national capital continued to remain in the “severe” category on Friday, the second straight day.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court today agreed to hear a plea in connection with the Delhi air pollution.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai has convened a high-level meeting today to discuss the implementation of curbs on polluting activities under the final stage of the Graded Response Action Plan.

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) had on Wednesday asked the Delhi government to shut schools till air quality in the capital improves.

The SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) Friday revealed that the stubble-burning contributed 34 percent to Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution.

The air quality in Delhi continued to remain in the ‘severe’ category on Friday morning as the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city jumped to 472. Noida, which is part of the national capital region, recorded an AQI of 562 and continued to remain in the ‘severe’ category, while Gurugram’s AQI stood at 539 and continued to remain in the ‘severe’, as per data released by SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) India.

Air Quality Index from 0 to 100 is considered as good, while from 100 to 200 it is moderate, from 200 to 300 it is poor, and from 300 to 400 it is said to be very poor and from 400 to 500 or above it is considered as severe. (ANI)

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Global Emission Will Peak in 2025

Global Emission Will Peak in 2025: Intl Energy Agency

The International Energy Agency (IEA) on Thursday released its World Energy Outlook 2022 report, which stated that global emissions will peak in 2025.

Based on the latest energy data and market developments, this year’s WEO explores key questions about the crisis, including setbacks for clean energy transitions, government responses on energy markets and possible risks ahead on the path to net zero emissions.

“In the Announced Pledges Scenario (APS), the commitments in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) bring about a faster reduction in emissions: global emissions peak before 2025 and fall to 31.5 Gt CO2 in 2030, which is around 15per cent lower than in the STEPS,” the report said.

IEA energy outlook report’s scenario is based on prevailing policy settings that see a definitive peak in global demand for fossil fuels.

“Coal demand peaks in the next few years, natural gas demand reaches a plateau by the end of the decade, and oil demand reaches a high point in the mid-2030s before falling slightly. From 80per cent today – a level that has been constant for decades – the share of fossil fuels in the global energy mix falls to less than 75per cent by 2030 and to just above 60 per cent by mid-century,” the report said.

The World Energy Outlook report states that the global energy crisis sparked by the Ukraine conflict is having far-reaching implications for entire economies, prompting short-term responses from governments as well as a deeper debate about the ways to promote energy security.

“This is a global crisis, but Europe is the main theatre in which it is playing out, and natural gas is centre stage – especially during the coming northern hemisphere winter,” it says.

High energy prices are causing a huge transfer of wealth from consumers to producers, back to the levels seen in 2014 for oil, but entirely unprecedented for natural gas. High fuel prices account for 90 per cent of the rise in the average costs of electricity generation worldwide, with natural gas alone for more than 50 per cent.

“Price and economic pressures mean that the number of people without access to modern energy is rising for the first time in a decade. Around 75 million people who recently gained access to electricity are likely to lose the ability to pay for it, and 100 million people may revert to the use of traditional biomass for cooking,” it says.

The report continues that there remain huge uncertainties over how this energy crisis will evolve and for how long fossil fuel prices will remain elevated, and the risks of further energy disruption and geopolitical fragmentation are high. (ANI)

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Weekly Update: Delhi’s Hazardous Air; A New Strain Of COVID

A social media meme drenched in black humour has been doing the rounds in Delhi for the past couple of weeks. It goes: “If you don’t gulp down your peg of Glenfiddich quickly enough on an evening in Delhi, it can turn into a Laphroiag.” The reference here to the lighter coloured Speyside whisky turning into a darker, more peaty Islay whisky is all about pollution in Delhi. On Saturday evening around 7 pm, the Air Quality Index (AQI), which measures the levels of suspended particulate matter in the air, in Delhi was around 745. The higher the AQI value, the greater the level of air pollution and the greater the health concern. For example, an AQI value of 50 or below represents good air quality, while an AQI value over 300 represents hazardous air quality. At 745, it is a grievously terrible situation.

While jokes and memes, tapped out on phones from well-endowed and privileged Delhiites, gives one side of the picture in Delhi, the story from the streets of India’s capital city is not one that could make you guffaw. Delhi has an estimated 150,000-200,000 homeless people, the majority of whom live on the streets. CNN had a heart-rending story about an 84-year-old homeless man begging for food on the sidewalk outside Delhi’s South Campus Metro station, breathing the air noxiously full of smog. Millions of Delhiites eke out their living in the sprawling city with a population of more than 20 million by working on the streets, on construction sites, in open-air food and vegetable markets, or simply by plying auto rickshaws and handcarts. Hawkers, policemen, security guards, food delivery couriers–you name it–they are constantly exposed to air quality that is life-threatening.

The situation is a repeat every year, especially as winter sets in and cold air traps emissions from stubble burning on farms around Delhi, poorly regulated factories in and around the city, and the mesh of foul emission spewing traffic. Every year, when this happens, there is media outrage and huge concerns. But everyone, including the government, has become so inured to it that even as it gets warmer and the air clears even a little bit–although even then the AQI levels are dangerous–the outrage dies down. Year in and year out, it is the same story.

It is not that the government–both at the centre and in the Delhi state–have not done anything. A few years ago, they tried an experiment of restricting traffic by allowing only vehicles with licence numbers that were even to be out on the streets on one day and ones with odd numbers the next. The experiment wasn’t given time enough for its efficacy to be assessed before it was shelved.

This year, following a judicial order after an environmental activist had moved court, schools and colleges were shut down; construction projects were stopped and some of the coal-fired power plants around the city were ordered to be closed down. But as the air quality improved marginally, everything was back to business as usual.

Delhi isn’t the only Indian city that is reeling from the adverse effects of air pollution. Nine of the ten most polluted cities in the world are in India, which depends heavily on fossil fuel as a source of energy. At the COP26 summit that recently concluded in Glasgow, India was one of the countries that wanted to phase down coal instead of phasing it out.

It is a classic conundrum. Industrialised countries have reached a level of advanced development, (much of it achieved through decades of burning fossil fuel) where they can now decide to move to a non-fossil fuel environment. Countries such as India, which are still grappling with basic development goals cannot afford to do so. What then is the solution? The answers remain elusive.

Yet Another COVID Variant From S Africa

Even as a new and potentially more dangerous COVID strain was discovered in South Africa and travel restrictions were imposed by many countries on movement of people from there, many Indian states have imposed fresh restrictions on people travelling to those states from international as well as domestic areas. In Maharashtra, all domestic travellers will have to either be fully vaccinated or have a favourable RT-PCR test that is valid for 72 hours.

In Kerala, where the COVID situation has remained alarming, the emergence of the new strain, named Omicron, has given cause for concern. Kerala has been so badly affected by COVID this year that in August there were days when the relatively small state accounted for more than 50% of the total number of cases in the country.

Epidemiologists have had no concrete answers to why Kerala has been so badly affected. Some say it is because the state is able to test people for COVID at a much higher rate than what other states are able to do. Others point to population density in the state. But it is also a fact that Kerala has been able to vaccinate its population more efficiently than other states and that last year it was able to control the spread of the virus better than several other states.

But given India’s huge population, high levels of poverty and low levels of awareness, the emergence of a new strain of COVID, albeit for now in S. Africa, should be a reason for worry. And state as well as central governments have to constantly monitor travel, vaccination programmes and precautionary measures such as mandatory social distancing and the use of masks.

‘I Am A Pollution Refugee, Forced To Migrate From Delhi’

A Delhi citizen all her life, Priyanka Gera was forced to leave a well-settled living due to worsening air quality in the city. Gera says she has lost hope of seeing any improvement

I grew up in Delhi. I was a pure Delhiite until the birth of my daughter when I could no longer ignore the air pollution in Delhi. My husband was perpetually anxious about her wellbeing. We bought an AQI monitor and put air purifiers at every room in our house.

During winters we didn’t send her to pre-school on most of the days because the AQI used to be severe. We would escape to a hill station around Diwali. Then came a point when we no longer wanted to adjust our lifestyle according to pollution levels.

We started wearing N95 masks in 2018-19 while venturing out. Now masks are mandatory due to the pandemic and I find it funny that people still won’t wear masks despite the Covid guidelines, leave alone the poor air quality.

As the situation got worse by each passing year, in 2019, we took the tough call to leave our families, social circle and well-set careers and move to Bangalore for the sake of a better environment. Most people can’t do that or won’t do that – leave their well settled lives because of a danger that they don’t think is clear and present. So, they tell themselves various things to live with it, most vague of these reasoning is that somehow, you’ll develop strength or a kind of immunity in your body to adapt to pollution as if it were some ordinary flu germs. Yes, it’s true, I have heard this from so many people in Delhi!

ALSO READ: ‘NCR Air Is Worse Than Smoke From A Coal Mine’

Having lived in Bangalore for two years have done just the opposite. Now, every time we come to Delhi to visit our families, we get unwell. I wake up coughing every single day. No, it’s not Covid-19, it’s another lung killer that we choose to ignore – pollution!

I don’t know why most people are not anxious about the pollution affecting quality of their life. People like us are exceptions, who are willing to uproot themselves because we’ve lost hope that it can ever improve here.

Surely the government and agencies have been aware of the potential crisis since decades, that’s why CNG was introduced and Metro was planned. All industries have been sent out of Delhi. The problem is not just Delhi, it’s very much there in the neighbouring states too.

Government action is but all ‘reaction’ – nothing much is being done proactively. It takes the Supreme Court to give ultimatums to Delhi Government to take steps, now construction has been halted, schools are shut etc.

NCR Air Pollution in Winter

‘NCR Air Is Worse Than Smoke From Dhanbad Coal Mines’

Rajesh Kumar, 48, a construction engineer in Faridabad, says he shudders to think how people with respiratory issues cope with NCR air pollution in winter

I grew up in Dhanbad, one of the most polluted places in the country, but trust me the air quality in Delhi-NCR is even poorer than the simmering smoke from coal mines. I live in Faridabad, and while a lot of people are focusing on how polluted Delhi is, the entire NCR is equally bad, if not worse.

I had shifted to Delhi-NCR in 2005 from Manipur and the difference in air quality between the two places was palpable. I begun having difficulty in breathing while driving, and the pollution has shot to such alarming levels in the last five years, that it has become unmanageable. Every day is an ordeal.

Owing to the nature of my work as an engineer, I have to drive every day to my workplace that is often a dusty mass of construction land. I’m not asthmatic, but still if a normally young and healthy person like me can find the situation so troublesome, imagine what it can do to senior citizens, kids and those fighting respiratory illnesses.

My mother, 67, spends her time between Dhanbad and Faridabad. She is asthmatic and with each passing year that she spends in Faridabad, she has been complaining of breathing issues. She stays put inside the house when she comes here to avoid the “heavy, pungent air”. My younger son also finds it difficult to navigate winter months because of the pollution levels. He is allergic to dust and keeps sniffling continuously.

There are factories upon factories in NCR and a never ending series of construction work going on, adding to the pollution. Many of these factories don’t follow the pollution control norms adding to the misery of people. I have even stopped going for my morning and evening walks owing to the pollution. I tried for a few days, but then I begun facing difficulty in breathing (one cannot even think of jogging) and my eyes also started burning.

Kumar says climate crisis is for real

Last year was so different: there was the spectre of Covid looming large over our heads, but the lockdown meant lesser vehicles, lesser factories open and thus very low levels of pollution. It was like we had moved to a different world. Even post-Diwali, the air quality hadn’t deteriorated like every year, the visibility wasn’t low. But we are back to square one again this year. Seems like we have squandered away all the gains made last year.

Climate change is real and a solution is required urgently. Not only are dialogues between nations important, it is prudent for governments across the world to hold dialogues with their citizens. In India, we need to really take a quick, hard look at the problem. As a government employee, my team and I ensure that we don’t compromise the Earth and its people’s health in the name of development. If we have to cut a particular number of trees for construction, we ensure that we plant double the number of trees.

Unless we give the Earth back more than we take from it, we are going to keep facing difficulties. As we have noticed, each year is getting more difficult climate change wise and the weather is getting more and more unpredictable. We cannot ignore the problem of pollution anymore. The parali burning in Punjab also needs to be addressed. Rather than just blaming the farmers, we need to work together in helping them find a solution as well. We all need to come together to save the Earth.

Pollution Levels Rise in NCR-Delhi

Watch – ‘Zero Concern For Air Quality At Ground Level’

As pollution levels rise in NCR-Delhi, doctors warn the spread of Covid-19 may worsen. LokMarg speaks to environmentalist Sanjeev Lakda and several residents about the rise and air pollution level, its reasons and harmful impact in pandemic times.

There is unanimity that ‘Unlock’ has spelled doom for the Capital region’s environment. With the return of industrial, vehicular and stubble-burning activities, Delhi residents are now plagued with a double-whammy of bad air and virus.

Watch the video here: