New Delhi, January 1: In the first day of 2018, Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) witnesses air pollution to near emergency levels on Monday. The Air Quality Index for Particulate Matter 2.5 – the concentration of the particulate matter of diameter less than 2.5 microns – was 431 at 9 pm, which is categorised under the “severe” pollution category by the Central Pollution Control Board.
At around 8 pm, the Air Quality Index for Particulate Matter 10 stood at 494, which is also a “severe” pollution category.
According to a PTI, one of the reasons of a rise in pollution levels could be the use of firecrackers in the national capital on December 31 to welcome the new year, contributed to the rise in pollution.
An Air Quality Index reading up to 50 is considered “good” and up to 100 is considered as “satisfactory”. A reading between 401 and 500 is ranked “severe” on the index, which means the air is dangerously filled with pollutants.
To control pollution, Delhi currently has three plans and while one is being followed, there is no clarity in what is to be done with other two – one by the Prime Minister’s pollution task force and the other by the National Green Tribunal.
Monday’s spike in pollution comes weeks after the initial surge in November that was termed as a “public health crisis” by doctors. Pulled up by the courts for inaction, the Delhi government had also announced a series of measures that included in the odd-even scheme, ban on commercial trucks and construction activities.
In Delhi, car parking charges were also hiked four times to force people to use public transport.
Last week, Delhi Government released a statistical figure which showed that deaths due to respiratory diseases have increased from 6,502 in 2015 to 9,149 in 2016, a scary 40% increase.
Last week news agency ANI quoted several experts who warned that rising pollution in Delhi-NCR can lead inhabitants to walk around with oxygen cylinders on their backs to counter it. Experts also suggested that if the situation remains same a person would need at least five oxygen cylinders a day.
In Delhi, rising pollution levels has become the cause of several ailments, including premature birth, a decrease in lung immunity, allergies or aggravation of existing allergies, strokes, heart and lung disease, cancer and other acute respiratory diseases.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says 92 percent of the world’s population, including in India, lives in areas where air quality is below acceptable standards. It also says that about 88 percent of premature deaths occur in low and middle-income countries where air pollution is high and escalating.