Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to the severe plus category on Friday, with the 24-hour average AQI reaching 468. The Union government has deferred the implementation of stricter measures under the air pollution control plan, stating that the air quality index (AQI) in the region is already showing a declining trend.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) decided to monitor the situation for a day or more before implementing more stringent curbs. They cited that the restrictions under Stage III of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) were imposed only a day ago, and it is reasonable to allow time for these measures to have their full impact on the AQI in the region.
The Delhi government announced the closure of primary schools for two days to protect children from pollution.
Hazardous pollution levels have led many residents to avoid outdoor activities, including morning walks and sports. The city has witnessed a surge in the use of masks as the capital remains shrouded in a thick haze for the fourth consecutive day. This has raised concerns for the health of children, as they breathe faster and take in more pollutants.
The Haryana government has issued 939 challans and imposed fines exceeding Rs 25.12 lakh, according to officials cited by PTI. Chief Secretary Sanjeev Kaushal emphasised the state government’s vigilance regarding the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Haryana. To further diminish paddy straw burning, Haryana has implemented stringent measures. He said the state has managed to achieve a notable 38% reduction in stubble-burning incidents during the current harvesting season compared to the previous year.
The lack of rainfall during this post-monsoon season, combined with emissions from firecrackers, stubble burning, and local pollution sources, has contributed to the alarming air quality levels in Delhi-NCR during the winter months. The concentration of PM2.5, fine particulate matter that can penetrate deep into the respiratory system, has exceeded safe limits by a significant margin at multiple locations throughout the region.
Given the deteriorating air quality and the potential health risks, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has allocated funds for clearing garbage along railway tracks and is using dust suppressants sprayed through anti-smog guns and water sprinklers during non-peak hours. Additionally, the Delhi government is urging commuters and motorists to switch off their vehicles while waiting at traffic lights through the ‘Red light on, Gaadi off’ campaign.
As experts continue to highlight the adverse effects of air pollution on respiratory health, measures to address the issue have become increasingly urgent. The Delhi government is working to control pollution through the phased implementation of the GRAP, enhanced enforcement, and public awareness campaigns to protect the well-being of its residents.