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Purity on sale: As pulmonary diseases associated with Delhi’s toxic air continues its steep rise, the sale of air purifiers have boomed over recent years | Photo: Hindustan Times

Delhi’s air quality index breached 999 for PM2.5, PM 10 levels

On November 3, Delhi’s air quality index burst off the charts to 999 (micrograms per cubic metre), and beyond at multiple places. A public health emergency was declared. Flights were diverted. The Prime Minister’s Office and officials of Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi went into a huddle through video conferencing to monitor the situation on a daily basis. There has been not much let up since.  About 300 teams are in the field in Delhi to reduce air pollution. The main focus is on the seven industrial clusters and major traffic corridors in the NCR, officials said.

Top court raps Centre, states for blaming farmers for air pollution; Chennai most polluted in South India

Since north India’s PM2.5 levels went off the charts, the deadly winter smog is not letting up. Centre and state governments were at the receiving end of the Supreme Court’s ire for blaming farmers for burning crop stubble. Slamming the government, the court said the state machinery could have provided small farmers with equipment for clean disposal of stubble, as “… it’s bounden duty of the state to look after the interest of farmers.” The court also ordered to unleash “entire police machinery” to stop crop burning.

The country’s green court (National Green Tribunal) was equally harsh on the Centre and state governments and said toxic air is the result of the Centre their continuous apathy, not a situation “of one day”. The NGT summoned officials of the Delhi government, the Central Pollution Control Board, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee and the Union ministry of environment and forests over suffocating air quality index (AQI) of Delhi deteriorating since October 28, a day after Diwali.

Down south, PM2.5 levels were the worst in Chennai, where “very poor” levels were recorded on November 9 – the most toxic air was in the city’s Manali area (358 micrograms per cubic metre), according to Central Pollution Control Board monitors, on Saturday. 

16 months on, Maha gets real-time AQI for the state, Solapur most polluted on Diwali

For the first time, the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) published its real-time and manual air quality monitoring data from across the state this Diwali. Maharashtra had inaugurated its air quality stations 15 months ago. Experts say, from next year onwards, the state will be able to produce the trend and areas where air pollution mitigation measures need to be implemented. The air quality index (AQI) for Mumbai and nine other cities during Diwali and the following days was shared on the MPCB website. Mumbai recorded a ‘satisfactory’ AQI of 92 on October 27 (Diwali), which was much lower than last year’s 127 (moderate). Solapur was the most polluted location in Maharashtra on Diwali (October 28) with an AQI of 115 (moderate).

China fights economic slowdown, lowers PM2.5 targets; air pollution set to increase?

As China changes gear to speed up its slowing economic growth, the country has lowered its pollution targets. China is experiencing the slowest growth in decades. Therefore, the country is seeking a 4% drop in concentrations of deadly PM 2.5 particles in the October-to-March period from a year earlier, lower than the 5.5% decline it sought in an earlier draft of pollution-control goals. Experts say citizens may feel this in their lungs in the upcoming winter. The lower targets allow China to pollute for a longer period of time, but authorities deny it impacts their green targets. China’s environment ministry says the new targets are scientifically calculated “on the basis of extensive consultation with relevant departments, local governments and experts.”