India orders Delhi power plant, generator shutdown as air worsens

Pauline Gross
October 21, 2017

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Friday reported that the pollution levels in Delhi are lower compared to the air quality recorded during Diwali in 2016.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi stood at 403 on Friday, markedly better than 2016's post-Diwali count of 445.

Good air quality, in this index, falls in the 0-50 range.

For instance, pollution levels touched hazardous levels - PM10 at 1,179 and PM2.5 at 878 - at RK Puram around 11 pm on Thursday.

India's Supreme Court had banned the sale of firecrackers ahead of the Hindu festival of lights to prevent a repeat of last year's post-Diwali air pollution crises that left Delhi's 20 million residents gasping for weeks.

In the crackdown, following the Supreme Court order, the police have seized 1,241 kilogrammes of firecrackers and registered 29 FIRs and arrested 29 people, said Madhur Verma, PRO, Delhi Police.

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The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city Friday morning glowed red, indicating a "very poor" air quality. Anand Vihar, the most polluted spot in Delhi, had the highest PM10 reading at 2402 microgram per cubic metre, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee real-time monitoring.

While it is hard to quantify the immediate effect of the ban on firecrackers, residents across the national capital felt the beginning was promising with neighbourhoods reporting much lesser noise and smoke till about 6 pm, compared to the previous years.

Delhi's air quality typically worsens at the onset of winter, due to pollution from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants, industrial emissions and atmospheric dust. The AQI is expected to stay at "poor" level till Sunday. At Triplicane near the Marina, it was 597, compared to 200 a year ago, a three fold rise.A senior officer said, "Rise in sparklers and a unfavourable weather led to the spike".

On the day of the festival, it seemed as if Delhi would have its cleanest Diwali in three years.

However, scientists pointed out that the air quality remained at unsafe levels. "But the emergency level was breached on Diwali night", an analysis by the Centre for Science and Environment stated.

The spike in levels came on a day when a report in the Lancet medical journal said pollution had claimed as many as 2.5 million lives in India in 2015, the highest in the world. While some people travelled out of the city to buy the polluting agents, others said they used leftovers from last year's stash.

Other reports by GizPress

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