Delhi's pollution will go up against anti-smog guns, hotspot detection, and 50 teams this winter as stubble burning makes an early mark in its skies

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  • India’s pollution control body believes stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and other neighbouring regions may not contribute much to Delhi’s deteriorating air quality this year.
  • The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said it is going to deploy 50 teams on the ground for an extensive field to ensure strict vigilance as pollution levels mount in Delhi.
  • The government is going to identify air pollution hotspots and implement its Micro Level Action Plan.
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In India’s national capital, winter is coming — and so is the thick layer of smog all over the city. Touted as being one of the most polluted cities in the world, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) is gearing up to crackdown on violators.

In addition to its new Micro Level Action Plan, the CPCB is also bringing in new measures. This includes doubling on measures like field inspections, deploying anti-smog guns, and keeping a closer eye on industries and construction projects.

50 teams have already been deployed on ground to ensure compliance.
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“All offenders will be punished. We must also do our bit by minimising the use of personal vehicles,” said Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar.

However, the air quality levels in New Delhi are already deteriorating — that too much earlier than anticipated, according to data shared by CPCB.

Delhi’s air quality dips sooner than expected
Smog at NH-9 near Akshardham due to smoke with burning smell on WednesdayBCCL

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A layer of smoky haze was spotted lingering over the Delhi-NCR region on October 15 with the air quality in the region hitting ' very poor' levels. This is despite stricter anti-air pollution measures, including a ban on electricity generators, coming into force under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

CPCB Member Secretary Prashant Gargava said the concentration of particulate matter smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) between September 1 and October 14 this year has been more as compared to the corresponding period last year.

Meanwhile, NASA's satellite imagery showed a large cluster of farm fires near Amritsar, Patiala, Tarn Taran, and Firozpur in Punjab, and Ambala and Rajpura in Haryana — suggesting an increase in stubble burning across the region.

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That being said, India’s pollution control body believes stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and other neighbouring regions may not contribute much to Delhi’s deteriorating air quality moving forward.

Gargava said that as compared to last year, there is currently less area under cultivation for non-basmati crop and stubble burning also started early, which is why the city saw air quality levels dip earlier than usual in the first place.

On ground teams, anti-smog guns and a one-man panel against pollution

DELHI GOVERNMENT ENVIRONMENT MINISTER GOPAL RAI GESTURES DURING A DEMONSTRATION OF AN ANTI-SMOG GUNBCCL

In addition to the 50 teams that have already been deployed, The government is going to identify air pollution hotspots and implement its Micro Level Action Plan to ensure strict vigilance over pollution levels in Delhi.
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Apart from that, the government is planning to introduce BS VI compliant fuel and vehicles to remove pollution from vehicles. They are also working on 124 projects to install anti-smog guns across the city.

The CPCB’s announcement comes on the heels of the Supreme Court appointing retired apex court judge Justice Madan B Lokur as a one-man committee to take steps to preventing stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh — which is considered to be one of main reasons behind the high level of smog in Delhi during the winter months.

Experts believe pollution could worsen COVID-19 impact in winter
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The air pollution reaches a peak in Delhi and surrounding regions every winter. The pollution from stubble burning when combined with suspended water droplets in the lower atmosphere, form a thick blanket of noxious smog.
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In 2019 alone, air pollution killed an estimated 1.67 million people in the country, according to the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) study.However, little has been done to address the problem. The Kejriwal government didn’t pass a single bill to protect the environment in the last five years and has also been criticised by the Supreme Court for carelessness.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic this year, the impact of pollution may be more fatal as it compromised the immune system.

“Researchers have linked air pollution with mechanisms that may reduce our immune defences such as damage to human airways, cilia and epithelial barriers. In the case of COVID-19, current evidence indicates that chronic exposure to air pollutants is associated with more severe infections and higher mortality,” said Avinash Chanchal, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace India.
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(With inputs from PTI and IANS)
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