The air quality in Delhi continues to be a cause for concern, with the overall air quality slipping into the ‘severe’ category. Despite light rainfall in some parts of Delhi-NCR, the air quality remained a significant issue, prompting various measures and discussions to address the pollution crisis.
Here are some key updates on Delhi’s air pollution crisis:
- Odd-Even Strategy Benefits: In an affidavit to the Supreme Court, the Delhi government listed the benefits of the odd-even car rationing strategy. However, the overall air quality remained in the ‘severe’ category.
- Artificial Rain Efforts: The Delhi government has been making efforts to implement ‘artificial rain’ through cloud seeding around November 20 as a measure to combat the pollution situation.
- Winter Break Advance: Due to the air pollution crisis, Delhi University has advanced its winter break, which now extends from November 13 to November 19.
- Healthcare Preparations: The Union Health Ministry has asked Delhi and its neighboring states (Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan) to make necessary healthcare preparations to handle a potential rush of patients due to poor air quality. The ministry emphasized the impact of air pollution on both acute and chronic illnesses.
- Odd-Even Scheme Deferred: The implementation of the odd-even car rationing scheme has been deferred by the Delhi government due to a significant improvement in air quality after rain. The government will review the situation post-Diwali.
- Supreme Court’s Intervention: The Supreme Court has questioned the effectiveness of the odd-even rule and ordered an immediate halt to farm fires. The court expressed concerns about the lack of progress in controlling pollution at the ground level.
- Central Health Advisory: The Union Health Ministry issued an advisory for schools in Delhi, urging students to use public transport or bicycles amid the air emergency.
- NGT’s Remarks: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) expressed concern about the smoke engulfing cities in Punjab due to crop residue burning and questioned the improvement in air quality.
- IMD’s Weather Forecast: The India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts clouding over Delhi and expects cold winds in the plains of North Western India due to snowfall in hilly areas.
- Rainfall Impact: Overnight rain brought some relief to Delhi’s air quality, leading to a marginal improvement in the Air Quality Index (AQI).
- SC’s Orders: The Supreme Court ordered an immediate halt to farm fires and questioned the effectiveness of the odd-even rule. The court emphasized the need to find a solution to reduce pollution levels in the NCR.
- SC’s Concern on Ground-Level Action: The Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the lack of action at the ground level despite numerous reports and committees addressing the pollution issue.
- Delhi Government’s Response: The Delhi government, represented by Environment Minister Gopal Rai, mentioned a positive impact on AQI levels due to rainfall and discussed studies on the odd-even scheme’s implementation and the need for artificial rainfall.
- Centre’s Monitoring: The Centre decided to send flying squads to Punjab and Haryana to monitor stubble burning incidents and submit daily reports.
- Smog Towers Not a Solution: Central government sources mentioned that smog towers are not a solution to Delhi-NCR’s pollution problem, and the Centre does not favor installing more giant air purifiers.
- BJP MP’s Criticism: BJP MP Nishikant Dubey criticized Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal over the worsening pollution levels, stating that even the Almighty seemed to be against him for ‘poisoning’ the city’s air.
- Visuals and Impact of Rain: Videos and images from various parts of Delhi showed the impact of the overnight rain on the city’s weather and air quality.
- Delhi Government’s Financial Support: The Delhi government is ready to bear the entire cost of artificial rain to combat hazardous air pollution in the city.
- AIIMS and Airport AQI: The Air Quality Index (AQI) at AIIMS and Airport T3 stood at 352 and 475, respectively.
- Locals’ Response: Some locals expressed relief after the sudden change in weather, with one individual highlighting the improvement and urging elderly people to wear masks when going out.
The situation in Delhi-NCR remains critical, with multiple stakeholders, including the government, judiciary, and citizens, actively involved in addressing the pollution crisis. Measures such as odd-even schemes, artificial rain, and the ban on app-based taxis reflect the urgency to find effective solutions to improve air quality.