EPCA declares public health emergency in Delhi-NCR

New Delhi (IANS) The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority has declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region, banning construction till November 5 and bursting of firecrackers throughout the winter.

Construction activities in the Delhi-NCR region are already banned till November 2, as per CPCB and EPCA instructions. With Diwali having already passed, large scale bursting of crackers is unlikely.

The EPCA directive comes after Delhi’s AQI has been in the severe category for the fifth consecutive day. According to the US Embassy here, PM 2.5 levels at 1 p.m. on Friday was 450. The US Embassy does not have a reading from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., because probably the PM 2.5 went beyond 500, which they don’t measure. Values above 500 are considered Beyond the AQI.

While various directions are being given to curb air pollution, the weather conditions will matter more and a western disturbance around Sunday will cause dispersion of pollutants which have accumulated. The CPCB in a recent review had pulled up implementing agencies for “sub optimal” performance on addressing pollution complaints.

According to Safar India, the PM 10 count at 555 is in the severe category which was earlier in the very poor category. The PM 2.5 at 383 continues to be in the severe category.

According to Safar India, the calm surface wind condition that prevails in the last couple of days over Delhi has led to strong surface nocturnal inversion and accumulation of pollutants.

The effective stubble fire counts of Haryana and Punjab is showing an increasing trend and on its peak value of this year (3,178).

The stubble fire percentage contribution of Delhi’s air quality which has touched the season’s highest share of 44 per cent on Thursday is predicted to be 38 per cent on Friday.

According to the forecast, a slight improvement in AQI is expected by Saturday but in the same severe category. By November 3, significant improvement in air quality to the upper end of very poor to severe category is expected and by November 4, further improvement to the very poor category is expected.

“The western disturbance is likely to positively influence Delhi’s air quality by increasing surface and boundary layer winds speed (increasing ventilation) and thereby flushing out the accumulated pollutants,” the forecast said.

In a clampdown on polluting sources, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has shut down coal-based industries and construction activities till Saturday.

CPCB has asked all implementing agencies to remain vigilant, intensify actions for controlling burning of waste, construction dust, road dust, and strictly enforce the law. Road dust must be controlled with multiple applications of water sprinkling or along with dust suppressants.

It has asked Punjab and Haryana to take immediate stringent actions to curb stubble burning. Biomass burning in Delhi and other NCR towns must also be strictly checked, it said.

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