Delhi topped the charts when it came to “10 most polluted cities in the World”. The AQI or the Air Quality Index in the Delhi-NCR area shot well above 400. To add to the troubles, the MET department did not take into account the drop in the temperature that could have been caused by the increase in particulate matter.
The AAP-Government which runs the state administrative affairs for Delhi hastily approached the National Green Tribunal for counter-measures and their application to deal with the accelerating pollution/smog in the capital. The NGT was quick to point out that within the first week of November, the cumulative sum-total of pollutants had brought the particulate matter in the air to a staggering figure.
FYI – There are two measuring shticks for particulate matter in air PM2.5 and PM10, both of which were supposed to stay between 50-60 and 100 units, respectively, had reportedly attained beyond a whopping 300 and 500, instead.
When The Air Hit Rock-Bottom:
The NGT had reported that the magnitude of the 2.5mm and 10mm category particulate matter in the air has since diminished, however not as fast as Delhi residents might have hoped for. The Central Pollution Control Board had also chimed in on the matter, informing that should the situation not subside, strict restrictions would have to be applied.
The AAP government had stepped into the forefront of the matter and shut-down schools for a brief period. Air-filtering masks were also mandated to citizens venturing out. Prevention is better than cure but here the cure is not in sight…
AAP in Smokes :
The AAP Government has been employing certain counter-measures which added to the woes of the Delhi residents to some extent, and failed to contain the situation in the others:
- Construction-work in and around the Delhi-NCR area was halted for a short amount of time to prevent the poaching of clean air by fly-ash from kilns, etc.
- The Odd-Even rule of traffic was proposed to the NGT for approval. The mandate required private vehicles with registration number that ends with odd and even numbers, to venture out on dates that are odd and even, respectively. The effort was supposed to cut down the past 1-crore strong number of vehicles.
- The NGT claimed that the government had failed to pay attention to numerous other environmental red alerts; the size-convenience of two-wheelers which accounts to their numbers contributing 20% of the net pollution. The dilapidated public buses plying on the roads were no help either!
- The best response to the build-up to this situation, i.e., the smog slowly and settling down above Delhi, post-Diwali, had been to sprinkle water above the city with helicopters meant to otherwise ferry bureaucrats.
- Schools were stipulated to be shut for 3 days which did not see Delhi through the ordeal yet.
- Citizens welcomed news of the Badarpur coal plant which was responsible for emitting peak amounts of pollution, being shut down for 10 days.
With one step forward and two steps back, Delhi is coping as much as it can, meagrely, half-heartedly, against their second nature. Unanimously agreeing that obeying the Odd-Even rule and keeping schools shut in this time of peril, is ‘apparently not going to do anyone good’, Delhi’s residents have stepped out of their homes, clad in their gasmask glory!
The ace in the hole so far seems to be the precipitation predicted by the meteorological department. The rains are supposed to lay down the foundations of reparations by reducing the amount of particulate suspended in air; an increase in wind speed may also help in driving away the smog. The AAP government may finally breathe a sigh of relief, if not purity, because we all know, nothing lasts forever, not even the cold November rain!