Selective attention: Satellite data and studies show, contrary to govt’s statement, that air pollution is an equally big problem in rural areas too. Photo: WikimediaCommons_Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change

Govt shocker in Parliament: ‘Air pollution primarily urban issue’

In an apparent disregard of the fact that coal power plants, brick kilns, industries are set up around villages and the fact that rural areas burn solid fuel for cooking, the government said in Parliament that air pollution is primarily an urban phenomenon, therefore it was focussing on monitoring air quality in urban areas.

Just 26 of the 1,243 air quality monitoring stations covering 465 cities in the country are installed in villages—24 in Punjab and two in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, on an experimental basis. Aside from these, the government said it has sanctioned 17 monitoring stations in villages of Himachal Pradesh (5), Kerala (2), Mizoram (5), Odisha (2), Tripura (1) and Uttar Pradesh (2).

Experts said just because the government isn’t monitoring doesn’t mean air pollution doesn’t exist in rural areas. They pointed out that satellite data and studies that show air pollution is as big a problem in rural areas as it is in urban areas. Scientists said air pollution is a regional issue and all areas get affected. 

Revised graded action plan to be implemented from Oct 1 in Delhi-NCR

According to the Commission for air quality management (CAQM), the revised graded action plan (GRAP) will be implemented from October 1 in Delhi NCR. The changed plan, according to experts, will be pre-emptive and will be invoked three days in advance of the air quality reaching a certain level based on forecasts, Indian Express reported. Earlier, GRAP was invoked when particulate matter concentrations reached a certain threshold. 

The new plan includes the ban on construction activities (except for those involving the railways, projects of national security, hospitals, metro rail services, and linear public projects like highways, roads) will set in under the ‘severe’ category. Earlier, the construction ban was imposed only in the ‘severe +’ category. Construction activities on linear public projects like highways, roads, flyovers, pipelines and power transmission, will be banned under the ‘severe+’ category.

US study: Children may be especially susceptible to the effects of air pollution compared to adults

A new US study of blood samples showed that children have elevated markers of inflammation, such as interleukin 6, if they were exposed to higher air pollution. According to the American study, higher air pollution was linked to lower cardiac autonomic regulation in children, which impacts speed of the heart beats and how hard it pumps, Scientists said exposure to pollutants released during wildfires impacted children, who have smaller bodies and organ systems than adults, including asthma and decreased lung function, as well as neurodevelopmental outcomes like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism, and deficits in school performance and memory.

Researchers looked at fine particulate matter data from the EPA (PM2.5), finding the children’s blood contained markers of systemic inflammation. Researchers have found children may be especially susceptible to the effects of air pollution, given that, compared to adults, they have a higher intake of contaminants and greater lung surface area relative to their body weight.

Centre along with Delhi, Punjab govts to give ₹2,500 per acre to Punjab farmers to stop stubble burning?

According to Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, the Punjab government proposed to provide Rs2,500 per acre cash incentive to Punjab farmers for not burning crop residue. The cash incentive will be contributed by the Punjab, Delhi and central government. The Punjab government proposed that it will give Rs500, the Delhi government will give Rs500 and the Central government can give Rs 1,500, Kejriwal said.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the share of stubble burning to PM2.5 levels in Delhi peaked at 48% last year.

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