NEW DELHI: After being submerged under thick smog in the last few days, the quality of air in the national capital region has improved from the "poor" category to "moderate" category on Monday.
Subsequently, all private and government schools in Delhi and NCR reopened today after being closed due to the rise in pollution levels.
Last week, Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government had ordered all schools in the national capital to remain shut till November 15 as the air pollution touched 'emergency' levels.
As the air quality plummeted to the 'severe' category, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) had also directed schools in Delhi and NCR to remain shut until November 15.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality of the national capital docked at 365 which falls under the 'very poor' category.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered as “good”, 51-100 as “satisfactory”, 101-200 as “moderate”, 201-300 as “poor”, 301- 400 as “very poor”, and 401-500 as “severe”.
According to the Air Quality Index (AQI) data by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the major pollutants PM 2.5 was recorded at 188 and PM 10 at 174 in Lodhi Road, Aya Nagar docked at 103, Burari crossing at 183 and CRRI Mathura road recorded 192 air quality levels.
AQI in areas such as ITO (215), Dwarka sector 6 (226) and Jahangirpuri (249) still remain in "poor" category this morning.
People residing in National capital are reeling under the impact of breathing polluted air due to vehicular pollution, crop residue burning and climate change. They are using mask and scarves to cover their nose from the cocktail of dust and smog.
Earlier, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had said that local sources of pollution, including stack emissions, dust, and burning of plastic and rubber waste, were the primary reason for deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR.
The medical practitioners across the city have advised people, who are suffering from breathing difficulties to avoid outside activities and recommended to use the mask. If anybody experienced unusual coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing or fatigue, then consult the doctor.
They also advised that to drink enough water to avoid dehydration and have fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants to boost immunity.
From October 15, stringent measures to combat the menace of air pollution had come into force in the national capital and its nearby regions as part of the Graded Response Action Plan. This plan includes increasing bus and metro services, hiking parking fees and stopping the use of diesel generator when the air quality turns poor.
Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that ‘Odd-Even scheme’ will be implemented in the national capital after Diwali, from November 4 to 15.
The Chief Minister had said state government will take the decision on the continuation of the scheme on Monday.
‘Odd-Even scheme ‘ is a flagship scheme of the Aam Aadmi Party government, aimed at combatting pollution. It was first implemented in 2015.
Under the scheme, four-wheelers with registration numbers ending with odd digits ply on odd dates and those ending with even digits ply on even dates.
On November 13, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the Delhi government on a plea challenging the odd-even road rationing scheme in the national capital.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta also directed the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to place before it the data of pollution in Delhi from October till November 14 this year. The bench also directed them to submit pollution data from October 1 to December 31, 2018.
The petition has alleged that the Delhi government's November 1 notification on the scheme also violates fundamental rights. It added that the odd-even rule violates citizens' rights to practice any profession, carry out any occupation, trade or business and to move freely throughout the country.
Earlier, the top court had questioned the Delhi government as to what it was achieving from the odd-even scheme by stopping plying of cars that are less polluting compared to two and three-wheelers and taxis.
On November 13, the SC also directed the central government to explore Hydrogen based fuel technology to find a solution to compact air pollution in northern India.
On November 4, the Supreme Court had banned stubble burning in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh in view of severe air pollution. It also banned all construction and demolition activities along with burning of garbage and waste in Delhi-NCR in the region.
The apex also directed that all those carrying out construction and demolition activities would be fined one lakh rupees. A penalty of 5,000 rupees would be imposed if anyone was found burning garbage and waste in the region.
A bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said in case of any violation, the local administration and zonal officers would be held responsible.
It asked the Delhi government and the civic bodies to chalk out a plan to ensure removal of the waste dumped at open spaces and come up with a scheme to deal with the issue.
On Friday, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Delhi government over the delay in tackling pollution and summoned chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, UP and Delhi over stubble burning that add to the problem in Delhi.
Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta observed that the governments in these states have failed to take necessary steps in curbing pollution levels and has yet again sought the personal presence of the Chief Secretaries of these States on November 29. They have also been asked to file an affidavit on steps taken by them so far by November 25.
Image credit: Business standard