UP, Haryana & Delhi pollution base for poor air quality

UP, Haryana & Delhi pollution base for poor air quality

Commuters drive through a heavy haze, in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

As stricter anti-air pollution measures kick in from Tuesday, a Supreme Court-mandated green panel has asserted that local sources of pollution in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana are the primary reason for the poor air quality that plagues the national capital every winter.

Stack and dust pollution, as well as open burning of plastic and rubber scrap, is a major cause for concern, member of the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) Sunita Narain said.

While Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has blamed stubble burning in the neighbouring states for deterioration of air quality in the city, SAFAR, the ministry of earth science's air quality and weather forecast service, has said the share of biomass burning in PM 2.5 concentration in Delhi has remained less than 10 percent so far.

The effect of biomass burning ranged between 0 to 9 per cent between October 10 and 13, according to a SAFAR data.

"Delhi's air quality index (259) is at the higher end of the poor category. It touched the very poor category last night for a brief period, indicating the peak impact of stubble fires to a maximum of 8 per cent," it said in a report.

"Although stubble burning incidents in Haryana, Punjab and nearby border regions are moderate, there's going to be a significant change in circulation pattern and the direction at transport height is going to be southeasterly, which means the impact of biomass burning is going to be negligible," the SAFAR report said.

Narain said stack and dust pollution, as well as open burning of plastic and rubber scrap, is a major cause for concern.

"Incidents of external biomass burning cannot be ignored. These are exacerbating pollution in Delhi-NCR. But the fact is local sources of pollution are massive. Biomass burning is contributing 10 per cent, which means local sources account for the rest 90 per cent of the pollution. Uttar Pradesh, Harayana and Delhi are all to blame," Narain said.

EPCA also said illegal godowns, each spanning across more than two acres, have come upon agricultural land in Bahadurgarh district of Haryana, adjoining Asia's largest wholesale junk market in Delhi's Tikri Kalan. They are burning waste that cannot be recycled, it said.

"Plastic segregation and recycling are important for the city. The Delhi Development Authority has given land for it at Tikri Kalan and Ramky Enviro Engineers Limited lifts the waste that cannot be recycled for controlled burning in waste-to-energy plants," Narain said.

"The problem is that it is overflowing outside Tikri. There are illegal segregation units that burn the waste that can not be recycled," she said.

Kejriwal had on Monday appealed to the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal to do something about stubble burning in neighbouring states.

He had earlier said that all the gains achieved so far on the pollution front in Delhi will be nullified if immediate steps were not taken to stop crop residue burning.

The Graded Response Action Plan to curb air pollution in Delhi-NCR will come into force on Tuesday, proactively rolling out stricter measures depending on the need to discourage private vehicles on roads, stop the entry of trucks, use of diesel generators, and closing brick kilns and stone crushers.

Prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board and first implemented in Delhi-NCR in 2017, the Graded Response Action Plan lists measures to curb air pollution according to the severity of the situation.

This year, GRAP will witness the return of Delhi government's odd-even car rationing scheme from November 4 and the extension of the ban on diesel gen-sets to NCR cities of Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Faridabad, Sonepat, Panipat and Bahadurgarh.

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