No improvement in Delhi’s air quality

New Delhi, Nov 11: There was no decline in pollution levels in the Delhi-NCR region on Friday as major pollutants across all monitoring stations remained at “severe” level.

The data collected from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) showed that the levels of PM2.5 and PM10 (particles with diameter less than 2.5 and 10mm) were “severe”.

The CPCB data showed the average Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi at 480, close to “severe-plus”, while the average PM2.5 (particles with diameter less than 2.5) of 24 active monitoring stations was 479 units by 12 p.m.

The safe limit for PM2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic meter according to national standards and 25 micrograms per cubic meter as per international standards.

The average AQI of Delhi and NCR was “severe” at 473 units while the average PM2.5 was 472 units.

People have been advised to avoid all physical activity outdoors and to consult a doctor in case of unusual coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing, breathing difficulty or fatigue.

Meanwhile, the traffic plan was announced on a day the Delhi High Court said there was an “emergency situation” vis-a-vis pollution in Delhi-NCR and asked the Delhi government to consider implementing cloud seeding to induce artificial rain apart from vehicle rationing on roads.

The Environment Ministry formed a seven-member committee headed by the Environment Secretary to find long and short-term solutions to the worsening problem. AIIMS on Thursday reported a 15-20 per cent rise in cases of respiratory problems being received, which was also the case with Safdarjung Hospital across the road.

The NGT (National Green Tribunal) asked the pollution control boards of NCR to ban all industrial and construction activities in the region till November 14 and directed the Delhi government to sprinkle water on the hot spots using helicopters. It also banned entry of trucks carrying construction material into the NCR.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who inaugurated 20 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations here, blamed stubble burning for the “severe” air quality and said the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab should come together with Delhi to find a solution.

The ’emergency’ under Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) came into force in Delhi-NCR on Thursday with weather officials saying that change in wind direction is set to further worsen the air quality of Delhi on Friday.

The announcement of the third phase of odd-even rationing traffic plan from November 13 to 17 was made by Delhi’s Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot at a press conference here.

Smog raises number of patients with breathing problems
“There has been around 15 to 20 per cent increase in number of patients seeking treatment for respiratory and cardiac issues,” All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Director Randeep Guleria said.

Similarly, Safdarjung Hospital witnessed a 15 per cent rise in number of patients while Fortis Hospital in Vasant Kunj area recorded 25 per cent increase in patients with breathing problems.

Sir Ganga Ram Hospital had on Wednesday indicated rise in number of such patients by 25-30 per cent.

The city has witnessed record pollution levels, including smog, affecting normal life and leading to closure of educational institutions in Delhi till Sunday.

The Central Pollution Control Board data indicated average Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi on Tuesday at 446 — with major pollutant PM 2.5, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 mm, recorded at 418 units. It was the worst AQI after 403 recorded for October 20, a day after Diwali.

Speaking to reporters earlier, the AIIMS Director had warned that about 30,000 persons may lose their lives in the National Capital Region alone due to current pollution levels, numbers which, he said, he had extrapolated from the number of hospital admissions.

Guleria also likened the current environmental situation in Delhi with the “Great Smog of London in 1952” that was “estimated to have killed nearly 4,000 persons within a week”.