“Stubble burning and landfill fire in and around Delhi continue to increase Air Pollution Level of Delhi and situation to become worst during Diwali falling on November 7,” says Shambhavi Shukla, Senior Research Associate who works with Center for Science and Environment Air pollution Team to Newsd.
Air quality has slightly improved in Delhi as compared to last year during the same period, due to the certain measures that have taken place by the Supreme Court through the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).
The number of pollution monitoring stations has also increased in Delhi-NCR compared to 2015 where only four were in place, right now there are 40 monitoring stations functioning in Delhi and National Capital Region.
“The increased numbers in monitoring stations have allowed us to understand the different areas and levels of pollutants increased in all across the state,” said Shambhavi.
Shukla said, “Last year the PM2.5 levels during the month of October were 4% in the severe category, and right now there is not a single day when it reached the severe category level.”
Last year the very poor category was 54% and this year it has gone down to 42% during the same month of October-November. The number of the poor category has increased for the same period.
“These are the signs of improvement but a lot more needs to be done and that too at a fast pace, said Shambhavi.
Delhi witnessed the first Smog crisis in 2016 when the situation was far worst as compared to this year, and the pollution level went beyond 1000.
It is important to see that last year Diwali was on October 19 before the stubble burning was at its peak by the neighboring state of the national capital. this year Diwali is falling at the same time as the smog episode of the last year.
“There is a possibility that Diwali along with the meteorological parameters will lead to an increase in pollution levels over Delhi,” says Sambhavi.
The environment ministry has come up with a Comprehensive Action Plan (CAP) to combat air pollution in Delhi-NCR in the long run, which will go hand-in-hand with the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) that kicks in when air quality deteriorates.
Interestingly, a number of revised deadlines proposed are of February 2018 with work on some of them yet to take off.
The government has formulated the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) as a long-term time bound national-level strategy to tackle the increasing air pollution problem across the country in a comprehensive manner. The overall objective is to augment and evolve effective ambient air quality monitoring network across the country, besides ensuring a comprehensive management plan for prevention, control, and abatement of air pollution.