Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai: 8 more pollution hotspots identified, next 2 weeks crucial

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NEW DELHI: With festivals of Dussehra and Deepavali and in light of the effect of farm fires, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday said that next two weeks were crucial for the city that has put into force phase two of Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to tackle “very poor” air quality.

Earlier today Rai chaired a meeting at the Delhi Secretariat to take stock of the deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR and said special teams will be deputed to identify and inspect local sources of pollution.

“The next 10-15 days are crucial and we are trying to do better than previous times,” Rai told ANI.

Rai also said that the Delhi government had reached out to neighbouring states on stubble burning, which contributed to the high levels of pollution. “We have spoken to the environment ministers of the surrounding states and they have assured that they will take action on stubble burning… Due to Diwali, stubble and Dussehra, the next 10 to 15 days are very crucial for Delhi…” Rai said.

Addressing media persons after today’s meeting, the environment minister said that eight more pollution hotspots other than the existing 13 have been identified, in the city and a special team will be deputed to identify and inspect local sources of pollution.

“There are 13 pollution hotspots in Delhi. Today, 8 other points, including Shadipur, Mandir Marg, Patparganj, Sonia Vihar, and Moti Bagh, witnessed AQI levels above 300 today due to local reasons. Special teams will be deputed here to identify and inspect local sources of pollution there,” Gopal Rai said.

The overall air quality in the national capital on Monday morning was recorded in the ‘Very Poor category’, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 306 against 302 recorded on Sunday afternoon, as per SAFAR-India.

The overall air quality in the National Capital deteriorated from the ‘poor’ category to the ‘very poor’ category, with the Air Quality Index at 302 on Sunday afternoon, as per data from SAFAR-India.

Rai said today, “The cold has started increasing in Delhi and speed of the wind has decreased, this may result in an increase in pollution… The particulate matter is staying near the ground. The second phase of GRAP has been implemented in Delhi.”

“The weather is not in our hands but the sources need to be controlled… GRAP 2 is mainly about cleaning and water sprinkling etc… Frequency of buses and trains would be increased,” the minster said.

The Commission for Air Quality Management sub-committee on Saturday decided to invoke the 11-point action plan as per Stage-II of revised GRAP in the entire National Capital Region.

As per a government release issued by the Ministry of Environment, under GRAP-2 restrictions in Delhi NCR, there is ban on the use of coal and wood-fired stoves, the frequency of CNG and electric buses will be increased, regular cleaning of roads and a sprinkling of water on them to be done, traffic police personnel to ensure there are no traffic jams so that pollution can be controlled.

Agencies responsible for implementing measures under GRAP including Pollution Control Boards (PCBs) of NCR States and DPCC have been addressed to ensure successful and strict implementation of actions under Stage-II of GRAP in addition to actions under Stage-I of GRAP during this period, the statement read.

The Air Quality Index is a tool for effective communication of air quality status to people in terms that are easy to understand. There are six AQI categories, namely Good + Satisfactory, Moderately Polluted, Poor, Very Poor, and Severe.

Each of these categories is decided based on the ambient concentration values of air pollutants and their likely health impacts (known as health breakpoints). According to the AQI scale, the air quality check between 0 and 50 is “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 450 “severe”. (ANI)

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