Bad air days: Delhi is gearing up for its dreaded winter months during which air quality in the national capital region plummets, with a return to the contentious Graded Response Action Plan | Photo: Hindustan Times

Delhi to bring back odd-even traffic plan, study says emergency measures failing to curb pollution

Delhi’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal plans to bring back the odd-even scheme for private vehicles on the roads from November 1 to November 14. Delhi will also introduce 1,000 electric buses to fight pollution, the CM said.

The Delhi government claimed that “emergency” anti-air pollution measures such as the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) and the odd-even traffic scheme had brought pollution levels down by 25% compared to levels before 2016. But the latest study by United Residents Joint Action (URJA), an apex body of around 2,500 resident welfare associations (RWAs) in the Capital, found gaps in the enforcement and understanding of GRAP amongst officials.  Experts say it is wrong to compare levels before and after 2016. Until 2015, air pollution monitoring was weak and data was not available for most stations. URJA pointed out that in 2018, Delhi had five good air quality days, 66 moderately polluted, 145 poor quality, 57 very poor quality and 92 severely polluted days, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The board warned state agencies of prosecution if they fail to address pollution complaints: 79% complaints are pending with the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, 47% with the North Delhi Municipal Corporation, 44% with the East Delhi Municipal Corporation, 28% with the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and 44% with the Delhi Development Authority.

The URJA report says since exposure to pollution for just an hour is sufficient to trigger diseases and respiratory issues, aggregated average numbers over three years hide the hassle and gravity of impact from sudden spikes and sustained exposure. Meanwhile, a plea has been filed in India’s green court National Green Tribunal (NGT) against Kejriwal’s odd-even plan claiming that it has been recommended on the findings of “foreign countries”. 

Bombay HC unsatisfied with govt response, orders assessment of Mahul air quality to determine fitness for human habitation

Prepare a comparative chart of surveys on air quality in Mahul to assess whether air quality has deteriorated or improved since 2015, that’s the Bombay high court (HC) order to the petitioners opposing the rehabilitation of project-affected persons (PAPs) living along the Tansa pipeline to Mahul. The national green tribunal (NGT), in a 2015 order, had said the ambient air quality of Mahul was not conducive for human habitation. The HC, which was informed of this assessment, has also stayed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) drive to evict people living along the Tansa pipeline till the matter is decided. The advocate for the petitioners claimed that resettlement quarters had been planned directly in the line of pollutant-carrying air emitted by oil refineries, power plants and fertilizer industries. Although the state government and the BMC special counsel contended that the air quality in Mahul was similar to most of Mumbai and that it had improved since the NGT order, the HC bench expressed dissatisfaction with their submissions.

Lancet singles out indoor air pollution as key heart risk factor in India

A Lancet study has said 12% of of cardiovascular diseases in low-income countries are caused by indoor air pollution.  The report is one of two from a study by the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiologic (PURE), both published online in The Lancet and presented at the European Society of Cardiology 2019. One report looks at common diseases, hospitalisation and death, while the other at CVD risk factors in middle-aged adults in 21 countries.

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