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The Air Report [21/11/16]

Smog gayi, baat gayi?

November 21, 2016
Image Courtesy: Viktor Kiryanov [unsplash.com]

Image Courtesy: Viktor Kiryanov [unsplash.com]

PM10 Level (Safe): 100 micrograms per cubic metre

PM10 Level (Delhi): 999

PM10 Level (Beijing): 83

PM2.5 Level (Safe): 60 micrograms per cubic metre

PM2.5 Level (Delhi): 497

PM2.5 Level (Beijing): 42

PM2.5 Level (New York): 8

This is what you need to know.

We are breathing in poison. Every day, and every second of our lives. And while measures are being taken by our courts and our ministers, it is not them that we can look to now. It is us, and what we do.

We have already requested our honorable Chief Minister to look at the issues plaguing our city. But this time, we are not singling out one party or leader. We are talking to all of them. And to you, the people. Don’t stop demanding your right to clean air, and don’t forget.

This is going to be a weekly report on what has been proposed, what has been done, and what should be done.

Let’s start with the backstory.

On October 30 and 31, 2016, from 9 pm to the wee hours of the next morning, North India – especially parts of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar – recorded PM 2.5 levels of over 500 µg/m³–exhibiting “beyond scale” pollution values, according to the database run by Berkeley Earth, an independent US research organisation. [The Wire]

“No matter how adverse the meteorological conditions are, a high concentration of PM2.5 can’t occur without multiple sources of emissions,” said Sumit Sharma, a fellow at Earth Sciences and Climate Change Division of the Delhi-based Energy and Research Institute who has been studying air pollution in India. [Wall Street Journal]

Better people than me have come up with comprehensive lists. I will use one such article to list out the problems:

  • Public Transport
  • Garbage collection
  • Industrial emissions (in and around Delhi)
  • Crackers
  • Stubble burning
  • Power generation (Coal plants, diesel generators)
  • Construction Debris
  • Fly ash (tandoors in restaurants etc ) [The Wire]

What happened this week?

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to entertain a plea seeking a direction to stay the Delhi Half Marathon until the pollution in the National Capital dips to a level safe for the runners (and it happened yesterday, BTW). Separately, it has also asked the Centre to draw a detailed blueprint on what it planned to do to curb pollution and grade levels to take precautionary measures. [The Hindu]

The Delhi High Court was however, the star of the week; it ordered that taxis in Delhi should be converted to CNG, and so should taxis with All-India permits entering Delhi. 40,000 taxis run on diesel in Delhi; ditto for 35,000 taxis with All-India permits entering Delhi. The Court asked Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to act in this regard. [The Hindu]

It also asked the CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board) to quantify the contribution of stubble burning to PM2.5 and PM10 values.

Reportedly, it asked the Punjab government to submit an action plan for combating future stubble burning, in 3 weeks. [TOI]

It also ordered the DDA, PWD and municipal corporations to clear construction debris on a daily basis. The civic bodies were also asked to extinguish landfill fires.

The Delhi government has responded with a series of bans. Usage of diesel generator sets, firecrackers, garbage burning…all banned. Yes, that’s crackers in the weddings nearby, but you have to understand that they are banned. Notably, it has also halted operations at the Badarpur Thermal Power Station till January 31. [Deccan Herald]

Which is a very good move, as the plant is known for causing around 80-90% of the particulate matter, SOx and NOx from the energy sector in Delhi. [Economic Times]


About the author: Hitesh Shetty
Dreams of writing a bestseller and changing the world. When awake, tries to figure out how to do both.

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