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Delhi pollution: The answer's in the wind

Agencies|
Pollution levels up in Delhi
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Pollution levels up in Delhi

Delhi's pollution levels spiked by almost 50 points on CPCB's Air Quality Index on Sunday with certain locations even breaching the 300 marks. A layer of haze lingered over the national capital on Sunday as the city's air quality plunged to the "very poor" category, days before strict measures to fight air pollution come into force under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).

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Air Quality Index in Delhi NCR
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Air Quality Index in Delhi NCR

The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi touched the 301 marks by 10 pm on Sunday. Earlier, the air quality has deteriorated in some parts of the city, but during the night it plunged to the "very poor" category in all the parts of the national capital. The AQI in Anand Vihar, Wazirpur, Vivek Vihar, Mundka, Bawana, Jahangirpuri was 327, 323, 317, 309, 302 and 300 respectively, according to Central Pollution Control Board data. The air quality in neighbouring Ghaziabad (320), Greater Noida (312) and Noida (310) in Uttar Pradesh and Haryana's Alipur Khalsa (351) and Panipat (339) also turned "very poor". Faridabad, Greater Noida, Baghpat, Murthal recorded an AQI at 290, 233, 280, 259 and 245 respectively.

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What is causing the trouble?
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What is causing the trouble?

System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), a body under the ministry of earth sciences, stated that while the impact of crop stubble burning was not too huge at the moment, weather conditions and wind direction were likely to change the situation in the coming days. Low wind speeds, too, result in the trapping of pollutants. SAFAR's model showed that the contribution of crop burning to Delhi's overall PM 2.5 concentration was just 2% on Sunday, but this was likely to go up considerably by Tuesday.

Agencies
Wind direction spells trouble
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Wind direction spells trouble

Prepared by the CPCB, GRAP lists various actions to be taken according to severity of pollution. The 10-member task force on the GRAP had on Friday held a meeting on the stubble burning incidents reported from Punjab and Haryana, and its likely impact on Delhi-NCR's air quality. A senior scientist at the IMD said wind direction has changed to west and northwest. Westerly and northwesterly winds bring dust from western regions and smoke caused by burning of crop residue in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana to Delhi-NCR. Despite a ban on stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana, farmers continue to defy it amid a lack of financial incentives.

Agencies
Action plan
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Action plan

State governments are providing 50 to 80 per cent subsidy to farmers and cooperative societies to buy modern farm equipment for in-situ management of paddy straw and running a massive awareness campaign against stubble burning. Starting October 15, stricter measures to fight air pollution will come into force in Delhi and its neighbourhood as part of the Graded Response Action Plan, which was first implemented in Delhi-NCR in 2017. These measures include increasing bus and metro services, hiking parking fees and stopping the use of diesel generator sets when the air quality turns "poor". When the situation turns "severe", GRAP recommends closure of brick kilns, stone crushers and hot mix plants, a sprinkling of water, frequent mechanised cleaning of roads and maximising power generation from natural gas. The measures to be followed in the "emergency" situation include stopping the entry of trucks in Delhi, ban on construction activities and the introduction of the odd-even car rationing scheme

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