By Rajat Arora Late last year, the Delhi government declared a medical emergency with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) sending out alarming messages on its website, calling for states to tackle pollution on a “priority basis”. The CPCB held frantic meetings to keep the public updated on the alarming PM (particulate matter) levels. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the situation an “emergency” even as the Meteorological Department forecast that a change of weather was most unlikely. The World Health Organisation in 2014 classified New Delhi as the world’s most polluted capital, with air quality levels worse than Beijing; and it appears that in 2017 the situation worsened multiple-fold. Delhi’s air quality is usually known to worsen ahead of the onset of winter as the cool air traps pollutants near the ground, preventing them from dispersing into the atmosphere, a phenomenon known as inversion. While Delhi has always had its fair share of pollutants attributed to the exploding vehicular population. (What can you expect if 1,400 new vehicles are added to the roads every single day?) According to government statistics, the total number of vehicles in Delhi exceeded 10 million for the first time in 2016. There is official apathy to keep a check on vehicular emissions; and the annual winter problem is exacerbated because of the stubble burning by the farmers. A report in the Lancet (world’s leading medical journal) said that pollution had claimed as many as 2.5 million lives in India in 2015, the highest in the world. And it’s only a guess the role of the nation’s capital has on this “achievement”. How much sense does it really make in always working on a war-footing, in utter desperation, year-after-year, when there is a need to work on this all through the year so that the situation that only seems to be worsening year-after-year is judiciously controlled? Construction activities were suspended temporarily; the city chiefs called for a total ban on trucks entering the city; schoolchildren were asked to refrain from going to schools and told to stay indoors because they are the most vulnerable to pollution that is usually at its peak in the mornings. Why be concerned only about the children and the aged? The microscopic particles, which are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, are considered harmful because they are small enough to lodge deep into the lungs and pass into other organs, causing serious health risks to even a normal human being. Retailers selling air purifiers are making merry as sales have surged significantly. People are moving about with masks and scarves over their nose, hoping that it could bring respite. The hashtag #smog was the top trending on Twitter, Facebook as 2017 closed, even as the people of Delhi continued to demand stronger measures to curb pollution. But what does one need to do? Primarily start with planting more trees. Development and upgrading of infrastructure should not mean felling of trees and starving people of oxygen. The government should ensure that polluting industrial establishments move out of the city limits and also stringently limit approvals to these units in areas of habitation. The government machinery should also start looking at greener alternatives in place of pollution-emitting fuel in vehicles. While the to-do list could be long, it is imperative to start somewhere because pollution has now overwhelmed the action taken and what is unfolding today is a scary story. (Rajat Arora is an Interventional Cardiologist and Medical Director at Yashoda Hospitals in Delhi. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at drrajat@yashodahospital.org)]]>

Gas Chamber: 'Delhi's air is killing us all'

For 38-year-old Dr Balvinder Singh, it was the concern about the long-term health of his two daughters that led him to pack up and leave the Capital and the hard-to-get job he had there. He lives and works in Udhampur now, a life that is fresh in more ways than one.

It was a tough decision for me to quit my job at the prestigious Central government hospital Safdarjung and move to Jammu and Kashmir. People work really hard to get an opportunity to work at Safdarjung, but I said goodbye to this premier institution in order to save my family. I was staying with my wife and two little daughters in the Safdarjung campus but I could not risk the life of my family by staying in Delhi further. Delhi’s air is slowly killing us all, and I am saying this from my experience as a doctor. I have seen patients with severe lung infections, breathing issues and multiple other problems which are either caused due to inhaling poisonous air or get aggravated by it. I made the decision to quit Delhi in 2016 when smog had choked the city, and we finally shifted out in April 2017. The smog that covered the entire city in a blanket of thick smoke was a warning of us. It is impossible to think to ask my kid to stay at home or to wear a mask before leaving home. There is a constant fear that an invisible killer is outside waiting ready to attack anyone. The question I faced was: what kind of life am I going to give to my family? We now live in Udhampur. Delhi’s maddening traffic and poisonous air made me find a job in a state-run hospital before shifting there. The decision to move was not easy for the family but I did it to ensure a healthy life for my two-year- and six-month-old daughters. It was tough to leave our friends and colleagues back in Delhi and start a fresh life, but we should also accept that we are blessed by God to get this life and it is our responsibility to be fit and healthy. Children are most vulnerable of us all as Delhi’s air can cause everlasting respiratory problems. After a few years when I will see my kids healthy, the relocation will have been the right decision.
More from the Gas Chamber

‘Delhi’s dust gave me lasting eye damage’

Mayur Sharma saw it coming

-With Lokmarg]]>


By S.N. Tripathi An apple a day keeps the doctor away is passe. Yet, it applies so well to the health of our environment, especially the atmosphere. We keep our body healthy so that it can efficiently fight diseases. A weak body will need heavy medication to fight a disease and, in the process, may develop side-effects. This general principle applies to the atmosphere too. Relatively clean air with the concentration of ambient pollutants under control is in a better position to deal with occasional large emissions. Large forest fires, volcanic eruptions and dust-storms are unexpected incidents that may momentarily cause air pollution levels to spike above permissible levels. After such events, a healthy environment would be easily able to return to a cleaner state. In Delhi, however, after over 10 days of “severe”-level air quality, it improved to a “very poor” level during the December scare. This is a sign of an unhealthy environment that takes time to recover to its original state, though even that state may not be very healthy at all. This is a cause of great concern and needs immediate public and policy attention. The Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) have recorded unprecedented levels of air pollution exceeding all permissible limits almost all year long. The situation is such that, just like an unhealthy body, its immune system fails to recuperate from external periodic events such as crop burning in Punjab and Haryana, excessive vehicular pollution, or construction dust. This is because even in the normal state, year round, the pollution caused by poorly-regulated industries as well as coal-fired power plants with obsolete emission control norms exceeds the limits that the environment can handle. The lack of a fine self-correcting balance mechanism creates a fragile situation ready to explode. Sadly, while Delhi has the “privilege” of great media attention, other cities across the plains are worse off. Lucknow has been recorded as the most polluted city in India, while PM2.5 values of Kanpur, Moradabad and even Ghaziabad are not far behind. There is, in fact, evidence that most Indian cities with populations of over 100,000 have pollution levels well exceeding WHO limits. One way to ascertain atmospheric pollution levels is to measure the rate at which dust particles block sunlight. Research based on the ISRO network shows that since 1995, pollution in the atmosphere has been increasing across India, with a much steeper rise in the IGP. What are the major reasons behind this and what could be the possible solution to this gigantic problem, which is now the largest killer globally as estimated by the Lancet Commission? It is worth remembering that even with all sincere efforts, it will take years, if not decades, to secure clean and breathable air in our cities. Pollution in water bodies such as a river is much better understood compared to atmospheric pollution. The overall size of a water body is only a fraction of the area of the land. For example, the Ganga and the Yamuna put together will only be a fraction of the area of the IGP. Even with a simpler system with far greater understanding we are struggling to keep our rivers clean. The atmosphere has active and complex interactions between gases, particulate and liquid droplets, especially during monsoon and winter-time fog. The problem is further compounded by transformation of gases into particulate matter, giving rise to secondary formations. Data shows that during winter, up to 50-60 per cent of total PM2.5 is secondary in nature (forming in the atmosphere rather than released at source) because of conversion of gases such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, volatile organic carbon (VOCs) and poly aromatic hydrocarbon (PAHs) into particles. It is a highly challenging task to trace the sources of these gases. Existing sampling methods are not capable of distinguishing between primary and secondary sources. Hence, the present source-apportionment studies that employ these techniques fail to provide the comprehensive understanding that is required to solve this problem. The reported sources are based on particles collected on filters followed by their chemical speciation. Unfortunately, these analyses can only achieve speciation at most by 50 per cent (lack of mass closure), limiting our ability to properly understand the sources. This is also precisely the reason that the problem of air pollution needs to be looked at a regional scale as gases emitted elsewhere can contribute to PM at a different place, thus limiting the overall efficacy of source mitigation efforts solely driven by local considerations. The regional nature of the problem requires inter-state cooperation. This can be achieved by creating a single empowered agency with scientific, technological and legal arms. There is a valley-like effect in the IGP — the tall Himalayas in the north not allowing air masses to rise and disperse, as is the case in other parts of the country. Inversion conditions during winter further reduce the dispersion capacity of the lower part of the atmosphere, leading to accumulation near the surface. Such weather conditions cannot be avoided. One way to deal with these is to adopt stricter emission laws for the IGP, with rigorous enforcement backed up by severe penalties. The monitoring networks can be scaled up using low-cost, automated sensors that have been giving promising results. Experience of other countries can be used to combat this problem. (S.N. Tripathi, a professor at IIT-Kanpur, has been closely studying air quality, climate and health over the years. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at snt@iitk.ac.in) (IANS)]]>


By Peter Wooders & Vibhuti Garg With a rising population and fast-growing economy, energy demand in India is increasing rapidly. Is the country embarking upon a clean energy or a fossil fuel-dependent approach to meet this rising demand? The energy path that the country will follow depends on the levers which the Indian government employs to shape its energy mix, including subsidies in the form of fiscal incentives, regulated energy prices and other forms of government support. Following a recent comprehensive investigation into these policies, we find that Central government energy subsidies were worth ₹133,841 crore ($20.4 billion) in Financial Year (FY) 2016. In addition, through the UDAY scheme, state governments were provided a bail-out package for electricity distribution companies worth ₹170,802 crore over a two-year period in FY16 and FY17. The biggest subsidies by far still go to fossil fuels and the electricity transmission and distribution system, which is largely used by coal-fired power generation. But trends are also changing: Renewable energy subsidies tripled in the past three years, while oil and gas subsidies fell by almost three quarters (in part due to policy changes and in part due to low oil prices), and coal subsidies remained largely stable. This, of course, is the past and what matters is the future. Will these trends continue? And does it matter, anyway, if a clean or a dirty energy economy develops? Well — in addition to representing a big share of taxpayer money — energy subsidies have wide ramifications beyond government budgets. One of the most important is public health. The Central government actually spends more on fossil fuel subsidies than it does on health: In FY16, it is estimated that for each $1 of government expenditure on health, $2.6 went to fossil fuel subsidies. And yet, air pollution in Delhi and the northern states was unbearable in the winter gone by. Fossil fuels are one of the major causes of air pollution, particularly emissions from transport and coal-fired power plants. Recent estimates claim that outdoor air pollution caused more than a million premature deaths in India in 2016 and the OECD estimates that the economic cost of India’s air pollution is more than $800 billion. These health impacts are also unfair. The worst-affected communities are usually those living around the points of fuel production and combustion, and who have the fewest options to cope. A report by medical and public health experts of People First Collective India, for example, found serious health problems among residents living around coal mines and thermal power plants in the Tamnar block of Raigarh district, Chhattisgarh. A study by HEAL estimates that fossil-fuel subsidy reform in combination with fuel taxation could help India prevent 65 per cent of premature deaths caused through air pollution, which in turn would bring down public expenditure on health and improve national productivity. Energy subsidies also matter for achieving climate change targets. India’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), solidified through the Paris Agreement on climate change, aims to cut emissions intensity by up to 35 per cent and increase the share of power sourced from low-carbon sources to at least 40 per cent of the total generation by 2022. Furthermore, India’s leadership in establishing the International Solar Alliance (ISA), launched at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, is betting big on solar and a move away from fossil fuel towards renewables. Energy subsidy policies can make or break the success of these kinds of initiative, for good and bad. There are, of course, no easy conclusions in a country as large and complicated as India. Some fossil fuel subsidies — such as for LPG cooking gas — help to improve public health by moving households away from biomass cooking fuel and so improving indoor air pollution. Some subsidies, particularly for electricity transmission and distribution, are much-needed to enable energy access. Increased subsidies for renewable energy are not necessarily a good thing in and of itself. It is only worthwhile if India is getting good value for money and the subsidies encourage competition. Otherwise, they will just undermine the development of the renewable energy market. Subsidies are one policy tool and many others are required to make renewables a success. These issues confirm the fact that we need better transparency on subsidies and better evaluations of which ones work and which ones don’t. Data on state-level subsidies remain poor, and changing policies — such as the introduction of the GST — requires ongoing reporting to update decision-makers and the public on what has changed. China and Indonesia, India’s largest peers in Asia and fellow members of the G20, have already opted to prepare self-reports and peer reviews on fossil fuel subsidies. Yet more countries are expected to announce reviews in the coming months. And many others will be encouraged to start reporting fossil fuel subsidies under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a process where India is actively considering how to use and build upon its existing reporting mechanisms. Now is a good opportunity for India to provide leadership to others by conducting its own voluntary self-report, and peer review, to help cut through the smog obscuring energy subsidies, and promote a domestic energy policy that is aligned with other national objectives. (Peter Wooders is Energy Group Director and Vibhuti Garg an Associate at the International Institute for Sustainable Development [IISD]. The views expressed are those of IISD. They can be contacted at vibhuti.garg@iisd.org)/ (IANS)]]>

Winter drizzle improves Delhi-NCR air to 'poor'

The air quality of Delhi-NCR improved from “very poor” to “poor” on Tuesday even after 7.8 mm rainfall over past 24 hours, but is liken to worsen again, said officials. According to the officials, the reason for not enough improvement is only a slight dip in high level of pollutants already present in the air here, along with a hike in moisture and s drop in temperature. On Tuesday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi at 4 pm was 219 or “poor” against 361 or “very poor” on Monday at the same time. “There is improvement but not enough, as rains had reduced the density of effluents however the moisture content is high,” Shambhavi Shukla, a researcher at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and member of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority told IANS. According to experts, the mixing height of pollutants have increased a bit, which will however not help with improvement of air quality due to low wind speed and moisture levels. “This is certainly not a reason to celebrate.. the air quality is still poor,” Shukla added. According to the forecast received by EPCA from India Meteorological Department (IMD), the scope of considerable improvement in the region’s air quality are still low. On December 7, even as the drizzling was way too low compared to that between Monday and Tuesday, the AQI of the national capital improved to “moderate” from “very poor” earlier, due to the meteorological conditions. The most polluted regions across NCR, including Vasundhra in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, Anand Vihar in east Delhi, Sector 125 in Noida and Delhi Technical University (DTU) in north Delhi saw “very poor” air quality despite rains, with the major pollutants PM2.5 or particles with air with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers ranging between 123 to 194. This is four to seven times the safe limit as per international standards. The maximum temperature on Tuesday dropped to 21.7 degree Celsius, two notches below the season’s average, against 27.2 on Monday. However the minimum temperature increased to 13.8 degrees, five notches above the season’s average, against 8.2 degrees on Monday. According to IMD, the temperature drop is likely due to cumulative meteorological reasons. “Wednesday would see minimum temperature of about 10 degrees, while the maximum is likely to hover around 21 degrees,” an IMD official told IANS. The national capital saw low speed dry and cold north-westerly winds blowing at around 6 kmph, however despite this, humidity increased on Tuesday ranging between 71 to 100 percent. “There are no chances of rains in Delhi-NCR as of Tuesday night,” said IMD, adding that the high moisture would however lead to dense fog towards Wednesday morning. This is a reason that air pollution is most likely to shoot back, according to the monitoring agencies. According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), Delhi-NCR air quality is set to deteriorate from Wednesday onwards, with aggregate 91 (poor) PM2.5 levels on Tuesday to 118 units or “poor” on Wednesday and 127 units on Friday, considered “very poor”.

(IANS) // ]]>

It didn't last long: Delhi all smogged out again

The improvement in the air quality turned out to be short-lived as Delhi-NCR started inhaling toxins again with virtually no winds and cases of stubble burning in the national capital itself on Sunday.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi saw a considerable drop in the air quality, with Air Quality Index (AQI), recorded at 4 p.m on Sunday, reporting 377 or “very poor”, against 305 “very poor” on Saturday and 217 or “poor” on Friday. The AQI at Ghaziabad (448) and Noida (415) were back to severe after two days of a breather on Saturday and Friday. The level of major pollutant PM2.5, or particles in air with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, across Delhi-NCR at 6 p.m. was 241, while in Delhi alone, it was 237 units — about nine times the safe limit as per international standards. The air quality was placed “severe plus” at Anand Vihar (PM2.5 at 389) in east Delhi; Delhi Technical University (PM2.5 at 332) in north Delhi; Sector 125, Noida (304) and Vasundhara in Ghaziabad (367). Meanwhile, at R.K Puram in south Delhi, the air quality was severe with PM2.5 at 6 p.m. recorded at 271. The safe limit for PM2.5 according to the international standard is 25 microgrammes per cubic metre and 60 by national standards. Meanwhile, the satellite images from NASA showed spordic incidents of stubble burning in regions in Delhi itself as well as regions across Punjab, Harayana and Uttar Pradesh. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Delhi saw no winds on Sunday, a possible reason for sudden increase in the pollutants. “There had been no wind in Delhi as observed during 2.30 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. on Sunday. The previous wind direction was southerly which is moist in nature, however at present with no winds. direction could not be assessed,” an IMD official told IANS.  
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Delhi-NCR gets normal air after two months

With air quality in Delhi-NCR finally improving to “moderate” due to the meteorological conditions, pollution monitoring agencies say it is the first December in three years that the national capital has inhaled “normal” air.

On Thursday, Delhi and the region around it saw a “moderate” air quality with the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 194 in Delhi at 4 p.m. It was consistent till 9 p.m. This is the first time that normal air quality was seen across Delhi-NCR since October 7 this year, while it is first December to have normal air in the last three years, officials said. “The wind speeds are up and it also drizzled at places, beside for past two days, we ensured curbing of extra emissions from burning of garbage, controlling fire at landfill sites and by water sprinkling,” A. Sudhakar, Member Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), said.

AAP govt takes U-turn on odd-even scheme

Within 24 hours of its assurance to launch the next round of odd-even scheme without exemptions, the Delhi government on Thursday made a U-turn and filed a review petition at the National Green Tribunal (NGT), seeking exemptions again. On Wednesday, the Delhi government’s counsel assured the Tribunal that it would bring the odd-even scheme as directed by the green court, which includes no exemptions for women drivers and two-wheelers. “The government wants to implement odd-even with exemptions… We have filed a review plea,” the Delhi government counsel said here after the bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar asked its stand on the scheme. Earlier in November, when the Delhi-NCR faced “severe-plus” or “emergency” air quality situation that calls for implementation of the odd-even scheme under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), the NGT directed the Delhi government to implement the road rationing scheme without any exemptions for women drivers and two-wheelers. The matter will be heard on Friday. Observing that the air quality in Delhi and NCR was never “normal”, the Tribunal had earlier also directed the Delhi government and neighbouring states to spell out their action plans and how they would implement the GRAP, given the severity of the air quality. The Delhi government’s plan recommends implementation of odd-even plan, check on entry of trucks in the city, ban on construction work and asking parents not to allow their children to play outside when air quality turns “severe”.
Sudhakar added that efforts were bolstered in the last two days as the national capital hosted cricket matches where Sri Lankan players seen on the field wearing masks. “Officials were posted at all the landfill sites to actively check any incident of fire and it was doused within hours. Earlier, it would take civic bodies 48 hours to douse such a fire. Besides, the stubble burning totally stopped,” Sudhakar added. On Thursday, the most polluted regions including Vasundhra in Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, Anand Vihar in east Delhi and Delhi Technical University (DTU) in north Delhi saw normal air quality, ranging between “poor to moderate” since over 70 days as per records. The level of major pollutant PM2.5, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, at 9 p.m. was 88 across Delhi, while in Delhi NCR it was 87 against 254 and 261 on Tuesday. The safe limit for PM2.5 according to International standards is 25 microgrammes per cubic meters and 60 units as per national standards. “There could be more Decembers, but we began monitoring in 2015, since then it’s for the first time when air quality has reached moderate,” the official added. (IANS) // ]]>

Delhi air pollution fails cricket Test at Kotla

Really sad state this, when they have to come out and play with masks on. And to think about the people who go through this plight on a daily basis. Pictures compare the AQI in #Delhi with that in #Trivandrum and #SriLanka. #INDvSL #DelhiSmog pic.twitter.com/ViCuXG2OcP

— Govind Sreekumar (@realGovindS) December 3, 2017 As Delhi air quality deteriorated and it became hazy just after the lunch, umpires discussed the issue with the players and the match was halted for around 15 minutes. The national capital woke up to a cold-polluted Sunday morning with minimum temperature recorded at 8 degrees Celsius, a notch below the season’s average and a “very-poor” air-quality. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the sky will remain partly clouded with the maximum temperature likely to hover around 26 degrees Celsius. Meanwhile the major pollutant concentration PM2.5, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers across Delhi-NCR at 9 a.m. was 218 units—eight times more than the safe limit. According to the Central Pollution Control Authority (CPCB), the air-quality fell under “severe-plus or emergency” levels at Anand Vihar in west Delhi with PM2.5 reaching 433 in the morning—17 times the safe limit, sector 125 Noida and Vasundhara in Ghaziabad. In Delhi, Delhi Technical University (DTU) in north Delhi and R.K Puram in south-west Delhi fell under “severe” air-quality. While monitoring agencies predict the air-pollution situation to worsen over days, respite is likely towards Tuesday with possibilities of light rains. “The national capital is likely to witness light rainfall on Tuesday, which may improve the air-quality,” an IMD official said. (Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy) (with IANS) // ]]>

Delhi-NCR air marks 52 days of deadly quality

It’s a problem that refuses to go away. Even as a few areas in Delhi-NCR fell out of the “severe-plus or emergency” category to “severe”, the ambient air quality of the national capital remained “very poor” on Tuesday — the 52nd day since the region has been bereft of clean air.

According to the monitoring agencies and latest forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the air quality is expected to remain “very poor” for at least till Sunday December 3. “The wind speed is expected to slow down, the pollution situation is expected to hover around very poor till December 3. The values may oscillate between poor or very poor,” Polash Mukherjee, Research Associate at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and member EPCA, told IANS. On Tuesday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was “severe-plus” at Anand Vihar, while it recorded “severe” in parts of Ghaziabad, Noida and Delhi Technical University (DTU) in north Delhi. In Delhi, with an AQI of “very poor”, average concentration of the major pollutant PM2.5 or particles with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers, was 187 units, while in Delhi-NCR it was 195 units — about seven times higher than the safe limits as per international standards. At R.K Puram in south west Delhi, PM2.5 at peak was 279 units at 6 p.m. According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), PM2.5 concentration was above 300 units at Dhirpur, Pitampura and Delhi University in north Delhi, Mathura Road and Ayanagar in south Delhi, IGI Airport, Noida and Gurugram.
It’s not just Delhi, or just in winter    A study has pointed out that air pollution is neither Delhi-specific or limited to winter alone. At least four other cities have suffered more compared to Delhi in terms of the number of days and severity of air pollution. The annual concentration of major pollutant PM2.5, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 micrometres, was more in Gurugram, Kanpur, Lucknow and Faridabad, the study by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC-India) said. It said Patna and Agra had annual concentration of pollutants similar to Delhi.h Te study analysed records from 18 monitoring stations of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) from November 2016 to October 2017. This includes the monitoring station in R.K. Puram area of south-west Delhi, which is among the most polluted areas with an average PM2.5 concentration of 256 units, compared with an average 191 units in Delhi on Tuesday. The study found that between the said period, Delhi suffered 146 days of bad air quality — “very poor” PM2.5 levels on 120 days and “severe plus” on 26 days. Gurugram was worse off with 190 days of bad air quality, including 133 days under “very poor” and 57 days under “severe plus” category.   In terms of “severe plus” days, nine out of the top 10 most polluted cities were ahead of Delhi. Gaya in Bihar suffered pollution for 42 days, Muzaffarpur for 34 days, Patna for 37 days and Agra for 37 days in this category. The study shows that the annual PM2.5 concentration in Delhi was around 130 units, Faridabad (170), Kanpur (166), Gurugram (163) and Lucknow (143). Patna (128 units) and Agra (120) were close to the Delhi figure. The safe limits for PM2.5 is 25 microgrammes per cubic metre as per international standards and 60 units as per international standards. “Lucknow, Gurugram, Kanpur, Faridabad, Patna and Agra had annual PM 2.5 concentration three times higher than the national air quality standard,” the study pointed out. “It is a problem faced throughout the year and not just during the winter times. The days we included were from all seasons and not just winter months… It also shows that there is an immediate need for long-term and systematic policy measures at the city, regional, and national levels to improve air quality,” Dr Santosh Harish, senior researcher, EPIC-India, said.
Meanwhile, as the stubble burning continues unabated in neighbouring states and the capital itself, as shown by satellite images, the National Capital Region saw the 52nd day of persistent toxins. According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) records, Delhi-NCR last saw “moderate” Air Quality Index (AQI) on October 7, 2017, and had been reeling under “poor” to “severe” category. The records further showed that since October 17, Delhi has been consistently breathing “very poor” air, while for seven days from November 7 to 13 it was either “severe” or “severe-plus”. Reeling under “very poor”, “severe” or “emergency” AQI since October 17, Delhi however got a breather due to light rain for one day only on November 19, when the AQI was rated “poor”, after which the air quality kept worsening to the date.


  (Reproduced tweets do not reflect Lokmarg editorial policy)
(with IANS)
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