Delhi: Public alerts, warnings to be issued to fight air-pollution
With Delhi's air quality worsening and the winter closing in, the city's authorities are going to send alerts about the rising pollution levels to people through newspapers, TV, radio from 17 October, two days before Diwali. Under a "Graded Response Action Plan" cleared by the Supreme Court, authorities will "broadcast warnings" whenever the air quality becomes "very poor" or even worse. Read more!
Currently, Delhi's air quality readings can be seen on apps/website of pollution control boards, System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), and other agencies. But now media broadcasts and bulk SMS alerts about rising pollution are mandatory. The graded plan was developed last year after air pollution got dangerously high in Delhi. It is based on mechanisms adopted by Beijing and Paris.
New Delhi has been struggling with worsening air pollution for over two decades now. It has been suffocating with smoke from fireworks during Diwali, crop-residue burning in neighboring states, vehicular pollution, and construction dust. The level of Delhi's Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM2.5) -fine dust causing/exacerbating respiratory diseases- is 16 times higher than national standards and 40 times more than World Health Organization's prescribed grade.
When PM2.5 levels are between 60-120 the air-quality is "moderate to poor", and when the numbers reach 250, it falls under "very poor". PM2.5 levels between 250-300 are "severe", and anything beyond this is either "severe-plus" or "emergency". Certain emergency measures would be automatically implemented when PM2.5 levels above 300 and PM10 levels beyond 500 are recorded for two consecutive days.
Emergency measures under the plan include a ban on construction activities and Delhi Government applying the odd-even car formula within 48 hours of pollution levels crossing "severe-plus" mark in Delhi-NCR. Alerts will be sent to people in "very poor" stage. Parking charges will be multiplied 3-4 times, and diesel-generator-sets will be banned. Once the air-quality becomes "severe", industries and brick kilns would stop operating.
As on 15 October, the overall air quality level in New Delhi was 283, which comes under the "poor" category. However, seven stations across the national capital showed that the air pollution levels were "very poor".