Clean commute: Given the worsening air quality, the government has banned the use of diesel auto rickshaws in areas around the capital Delhi. Photo: wikimediacommons/Buiobuione

Air quality commission panel lifts curbs, diesel autos banned in Delhi NCR

The Commission for Air Quality Management has lifted the stage three of the graded response action plan (GRAP) in the National Capital region, which means ban on construction, demolition, and BS-IV petrol and BS-III diesel vehicles will now be removed. The NCR’s air quality was recorded  as “very poor” on December 7, morning. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi stood at 323 at 8 am, better than 354 at 4 pm on Tuesday.

Earlier, the government banned the use of diesel auto rickshaws in areas around the capital Delhi, in its efforts to tackle some of the worst city air quality in the world. No new diesel-powered rickshaws will be registered in the areas surrounding the capital in the states of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan from January 1, the government said. 

CPCB: Don’t use central funds for air quality monitors in 131 cities

HT reported that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has made central government funds off limits to air quality monitors in the country.  CPCB wrote to 131 non-attainment cities (which did not meet the particulate matter standard for 5 years) asking them to stop procurement of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring (CAAQM) systems using Central funds.

CPCB’s order is expected to impact air quality monitoring in cities with shortage of real-time monitors, including several cities in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) that record high air pollution levels. There are 374 CAAQMS in the country according to CPCB, reported the newspaper. 

“We are not sure how many cities have placed work orders for more procurements. This direction has to be followed by all non-attainment cities that were getting funds for air pollution control,” a CPCB official told HT, 

In the IGP region, some cities have between two and five real time monitors. Kanpur, for example, has four monitors; Punjab’s Bathinda has one station; entire Jharkhand has one station; Gurugram and Faridabad have only four stations.

Air pollution kills almost a million children in the womb every year: Study

Nearly a million children die in the womb every year worldwide because of air pollution, according to the first global study. Air pollution was already known to increase the risk of stillbirth but the research is the first to assess the number of foetal deaths. According to the study, fine particulate matter in China kill 64,000 children in the womb every year. This is despite almost over a decade long fight against air pollution by Beijing. 

An analysis of 137 countries revealed that 40 percent of stillbirths in Asia, Africa and Latin America in 2015 were caused by exposure to particles smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5), which are mostly produced by the burning of fossil fuels. China ranked fourth in terms of the number of PM2.5-related fetal deaths.

In 2015 India, recorded 217,000 the largest number of PM 2.5-related stillbirths, followed by Pakistan and Nigeria, the study found. More than 2 million stillbirths were recorded in the studied countries in 2015, of which 40 percent were linked to PM2.5 exposure exceeding the WHO guideline level of 10 μg/m3.

Dirty air caused Bangladesh 4.4% of its gross domestic product: World Bank

Air pollution caused economic loss to Bangladesh as much as 4.4% of the country’s gross domestic product, the World Bank study said. The study pointed out that in 2019,  air pollution caused 78,145 to 88,229 deaths. Dhaka was the most polluted and Sylhet was the least polluted city in the country. 

Sites in Dhaka, Bangladesh’s largest city, with major construction and persistent traffic have fine particulate matter equivalent to smoking 1.7 cigarettes a day, it said.

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