Green ministry vows ‘harsh measures’ to prevent smog in Delhi

The country’s top environment ministry bureaucrat said that “harsh measures” could be on the anvil to prevent a repeat of the smog that engulfed Delhi earlier this month.

“As the government, we are determined to not let the Delhi smog-like situation happen again. And, we are concerned not just for the Capital but for the entire country. If harsh measures are needed to ensure that, then so be it,” said Union Environment Secretary, C. K. Mishra, at an event hosted by WWF India where he launched a report on ‘Clean Energy Innovation Ecosystem in the Small Medium Enterprises sector in India’.

Stubble burning

When Delhi registered ‘severe’ levels of air pollution in the first fortnight of this month, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had blamed Punjab and Haryana. Crop burning in the two States, he had said, was the main reason behind Delhi becoming a “gas chamber” for about a month every year.

Mr. Mishra, however, said that no single authority could be held responsible. “We recently witnessed the Delhi smog, but no single authority can be held responsible for it. If the government has failed, then those who are emitting should also take responsibility,” he said.

His comments come even as weathermen forecast a dip in air quality over the coming week, largely on the back of falling temperature and low wind speeds.

The average daily air quality index (AQI), which had peaked at 486 on November 9, rose from 322 on Saturday to 362 on Monday.

An AQI ranging from 301 to 400 is considered as “very poor”.

Colder temperature

The India Meteorological Department in its weekly forecast last Thursday said that temperature over large swathes of north India was expected to remain 2-4 degree Celsius below normal.

This coupled with increased moisture levels and slowing wind speeds could mean that particulate matter would remain trapped in the lower atmosphere.

“This is part of the seasonal variability in the winter,” said Dipankar Saha, who heads the Air Quality laboratory at the Central Pollution Control Board. “Factors like road dust and vehicular pollution are major factors that need to be addressed,” he added.

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Printable version | May 17, 2021 12:20:22 AM |

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