Pollution

North India air turns bad as winter approaches, CPCB data shows

Half of 54 cities, in six north Indian states, monitored by the CPCB, reported  ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ air

 
By Shagun Kapil
Published: Friday 16 October 2020
Air quality worsens in Indo-Gangetic Plain as winter sets in. Photo: Raghav Chaddha / Twitter

The recent dip in temperature has been accompanied by a worsening of air quality in north India. Half the 54 cities, in six north Indian states, monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), reported  ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ air.

The 54 cities were spread across Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Chandigarh.

Only four cities in these states had a ‘poor’ Air Quality Index (AQI) October 1, 2020, according to a daily bulletin released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of around 115 cities across India. The number in the ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ categories had increased to 27 by October 15. The particulate matter had increased substantially in over 20 cities in the last 15 days. 

An AQI from 0-50 is considered ‘good’, 51-100 ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 ‘moderate’, 201-300 ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’. Above 500 is the ‘severe-plus or emergency’ category.   

Fourteen of the 27 cities are in the ‘very poor’ category. These are Delhi, Baghpat, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Noida, Meerut and Muzaffarnagar in UP, Charkhi Dadri, Faridabad, Gurugram, Kurukshetra and Yamunanagar in Haryana and Bhiwadi in Rajasthan.

Cities in the ‘poor’ category include Agra, Ludhiana, Ambala, Bahadurgarh, Fatehabad, Hapur, Hisar, Jind, among others, according to CPCB data based on 110 stations in these cities.

The population in these states is exposed to pollution levels not seen in any other country.

A combination of unfavourable weather conditions like a dip in temperature, low wind speed and ventilation index which don’t allow pollutants to disperse and local factors like vehicular emissions, dust, and industrial emissions was responsible for the increase in pollution load. 

A report by The Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago in July had said that some areas of India fare much worse than average. Air pollution shortened lives by 9.4 years in the national capital Delhi and 8.6 years in UP, the most polluted state, according to the study based on an analysis of 20 years of pollution levels. 

The air quality in Delhi was in the ‘poor’ category October 16. The AQI around 12 pm was 235. 

The Supreme Court also stepped in October 16, appointing a one-man monitoring team to check stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and UP, according to media reports. 

The committee will submit its report to the Supreme Court in 15 days. 

Meanwhile, CPCB has deployed 50 teams for field visits for inspection of air control measures in Delhi and the National Capital Region. Out of these, 25 were for hotspot areas.

“We have given the teams five months to cover hotspot areas. For effective implementation of complaints that come on Sameer App, we have introduced an escalation provision this time so that if agencies don’t attend to the complaints in a given time, these will be escalated to authorities higher up,” Shiv Das Meena, chairman, CPCB, said.

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