Delhi to remain in 'severe' category state; days ahead to remain 'severe'
The Supreme Court-appointed EPCA lifted the ban on the entry of heavy vehicles into Delhi on Tuesday even as a thick haze engulfed the city with the air quality remaining in the "severe" category with the authorities saying that rains in some parts of the national capital have made the air heavier and increased pollution.
As the overall air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 411, which falls in the "severe" category, according to data by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) said heavy vehicles would now ply in the city on normal timings between 11 pm and 6 am.
According to official data, 21 areas in Delhi recorded 'severe' air quality and it was 'very poor' in 12 areas. An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered "good", 51 and 100 "satisfactory", 101 and 200 "moderate", 201 and 300 "poor", 301 and 400 "very poor", and 401 and 500 "severe".
Light rains in some parts of the national capital led a decline in temperatures in the city. The maximum temperature was recorded at 29.4 degrees Celsius, a notch above normal, while the minimum temperature settled at 14.2 degrees Celsius, also a notch above the season's average, a meteorological department official said.
"After isolated showers in parts of Delhi, lots of moisture is introduced in the air to make it heavy and increased the holding capacity which increased the pollution level," the SAFAR said in a report.
It also said stubble burning incidents have reduced significantly and now the winds are not blowing from these areas so its impact on Delhi's air quality would be marginal.
Meanwhile, a new study said that about 89 per cent of people in Delhi feel sickness or discomfort due to bad air quality as most of the people believe motor vehicles and tree cutting to be major sources of pollution.
The study, during which around 5,000 people in 17 cities were interviewed, found that the top four causes of deteriorating air quality were pollution caused by motor vehicles (74 per cent), industrial units (58 per cent), tree cutting (56.9 per cent) and construction (48.2 per cent).
EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said the restriction imposed by it on heavy vehicles had been lifted.
On Monday, the EPCA allowed entry of only those vehicles into the city which was stranded for the previous four days at Delhi borders, anticipating the situation getting out of hand with the owners of over a 1,000 trucks getting "restive".
The EPCA had asserted on Monday that these stranded trucks would be exempt from paying a toll or Environment Compensation Charge (ECC) from 11 pm on November 12 to 7 am on November 13. The body had said by relaxing the payment of toll-ECC, the trucks can move without any halt and this will reduce congestion and thereby pollution.
Over 2,200 vehicles were ordered to turn back from Delhi's borders during restriction on entry of heavy vehicles in the national capital from November 8 to November 12 in the wake of high pollution levels in the city, a senior traffic police official said.
As many as 3,931 vehicles carrying essential goods were allowed in the national capital from 11 pm on November 11 till 5 am the next day, he said.
The restriction on the entry of heavy vehicles was initially imposed from November 8 to November 11 but was later extended by a day by the Supreme Court-appointed agency on the recommendations of a CPCB-led task force, which reviews the national capital's air quality.
The study titled "Perception Study on Air Quality" by the ASAR Social Impact Advisors, which works on social and environmental issues, said the awareness level was higher in the metros with the Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) respondents showing the maximum awareness of all three terms -- Air Quality Index, Particulate Matter 2.5 and Particulate Matter 10.
The top four causes of the deteriorating air quality were identified to be motor vehicles (74 per cent), industrial units (58 per cent), tree cutting (56.9 per cent) and construction activities (48.2 per cent).
The study covers cities with highly-polluted air -- Delhi-NCR, Kolkata, Patna, Lucknow, Varanasi, Amritsar, Singrauli, Dhanbad, Raipur, Korba, Chandrapur, Angul, Nagpur and cities becoming rapidly polluted -- Bengaluru, Pune, Mumbai and Chennai.
The top two sources of AQI information for those who were aware and who understood AQI were newspapers and mobile apps, the study said. It also found that the age group which "always" sought AQI information was 18-25 years.
(With inputs from agencies.)