Emergency plan in force as air quality dips to ‘severe’

Surrounded by smog: Belgium’s King Philippe inspects a guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Tuesday.  

Air pollution in the Capital reached severe levels on Tuesday forcing the implementation of stringent emission-control measures and health precautions, including closing of primary schools on Wednesday.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the air quality index (AQI) for Delhi was 448 as of 4 p.m., making it ‘severe’ - the worst category and one that comes with the warning that even healthy people are affected by the toxic air.


The AQI, calculated using data from 15 monitoring stations, also showed that particulate matter - both the smaller PM2.5 and the coarse PM10 - were the prominent pollutants in Delhi. Across the National Capital Region, Faridabad, Ghaziabad and Noida also had severe pollution, while Gurugram had very poor air quality.

Far beyond safe limits

In Delhi, the level of the harmful PM2.5, which is small enough to get embedded in the lungs causing serious respiratory illness, was several times over the standard of 60 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3). At the Delhi Pollution Control Committee station at Anand Vihar, the concentration of PM2.5 at 7.10 p.m. was a whopping 732 ug/m3 or more than 12 times the safe level.


Concentrations of PM10 were also well above the standard of 100 ug/m3, with R. K. Puram station recording 835 ug/m3 as of 7.20 p.m.

Delhiites are unlikely to get a respite soon, as the National Weather Forecasting Centre (NWFC) said the dense fog seen on Tuesday is likely to continue for three days, reducing visibility in the forenoon as conditions are favourable for the formation of fog.


The levels of pollution on Tuesday prompted the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) to enforce the measures under the ‘severe’ category of the Graded Response Action Plan, which is already in force.

As per the plan, the NCR State governments will have to boost public transport and clamp down on dust and vehicular pollution.

‘Need long-term plan’

In addition, the Delhi government announced the closure of all primary schools on Wednesday.

Experts, however, said there was a need for a long-term plan to reduce emissions. A member of the EPCA and the director-general of the Centre for Science and Environment, Sunita Narain, said if the long-term measures already identified and suggested by the EPCA are not implemented, “air quality cannot improve”.

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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 9:00:02 PM |

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