If the air quality drops to very poor category, additional measures will be taken (File Photo)
New Delhi: Pollution levels in Delhi have started their annual journey up as the national capital braces for winter. At 16 degrees Celsius, night temperature has barely acquired a nip, day temperature is at a level 30 degrees. But the overall Air Quality Index or AQI, has already moved to the "poor" category. On Sunday, the AQI recorded at 10 am was 201. The Central Pollution Control Board said it is ready with an emergency action plan, which will be implemented from today.
Here are the 10 latest developments in this story:
Pollution in Delhi and neighbouring areas spikes around this time due to stubble burning by farmers after the harvest in Punjab and Haryana and Diwali firecrackers. Satellite images from the NASA have already showed increasing burning of paddy stubble in the two states.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he has taken up the pollution issue with the Chief Ministers of the two neighbouring states. "We have been pursuing Central (government), Haryana and Punjab governments, yet no concrete action has been taken. Farmers are again helpless. The entire region including Delhi will again become gas chamber. People will again face difficulty in breathing. This is criminal," Mr Kejriwal tweeted on Saturday.
An emergency protocol under the Graded Response Action Plan which involve a series of measures on basis of the Air Quality Index are set to be implemented. When the mark is between moderate and poor category, the burning of garbage will be stopped and pollution control regulations will be enforced.
If the air quality drops to very poor category, additional measures will be taken including stopping of diesel gensets, enhancing parking fees and increasing frequency of metro and buses.
For severe and very severe category air quality, additional measures would include frequent mechanised cleaning of roads and sprinkling of water, stopping entry of trucks, stopping construction activities and appointment of task force to take decisions like shutting of schools.
A farmers' organization from Punjab, the Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee, has said the farmers have no option but to burn stubble. "We will not let the government impose fines on farmers for stubble burning. Industries and vehicles majorly contribute to pollution, not farmers," Jarmanjeet Singh from the organization has said.
Over the last several years, air quality in Delhi begins sliding from October-November as winds slow down and temperature drops. Pollutants like sand particles and smoke get trapped, turning the national capital virtually into a gas chamber.
The particulate matter in Delhi's air went off charts last year, pushing up the level of pollutants to 10 times more than Chinese capital Beijing, known as the world's most polluted city.
The Supreme Court halved the number of cracker sale licences to be given out across Delhi and National Capital Region last year as the entire area remained under a blanket of toxic haze for weeks.
In its order, the top court had also said that as per reports, 30 per cent children in Delhi were asthmatic and steps needed to be taken all fronts to ensure their well-being.