Not Just Delhi! Pollution Chokes North India As Many Cities Turn Into Gas Chambers

5 Nov 2019 10:21 AM GMT
Not Just Delhi! Pollution Chokes North India As Many Cities Turn Into Gas Chambers
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While the Central Pollution Authority declared ‘Public Health Emergency’ in the national capital on Friday, as many as 15 cities continue to suffer from poor air quality. Apart from Delhi, nine cities in Uttar Pradesh and five in Haryana recorded Air Quality Index above 400, which is considered ‘severe’ according to Central Pollution Control Board standards on November 4.

The deteriorating air quality has compelled the state governments to ban construction and shut schools across states in Northern parts of India.


Apex Court Lashes Out At States

Terming the pollution in the national capital as ‘atrocious’, the Supreme Court on Monday said that people are not safe even inside their house. The top court ordered an immediate ban on stubble burning by farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, blamed for 46 per cent of the pollution.

The court also noted that people in the NCR were losing “precious years of their lives” and cannot be “left to die” due to the current pollution situation which should not be there in a civilised country. Anguished over multiple instances of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, the apex court summoned their chief secretaries on November 4, saying the time has come to “fix accountability” for this kind of situation which violates the right to life of citizens.


Uttar Pradesh Chokes

After the Supreme Court’s order on stubble burning UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday asked the Lucknow administration to implement the odd-even scheme at the earliest to combat air pollution in the state.

Baghpat, a town about 55 kilometres from the National Capital, recorded the maximum level of air pollution in the country. The AQI or Air Quality Index at Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh stood at a critically polluted 500 the maximum possible reading from government monitors.

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51-100 is “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 “severe”. Anything above 400 poses a risk for people with respiratory illnesses and can affect even those with healthy lungs.

Ghaziabad was the most polluted city on Thursday with an air quality index (AQI) of 482 falling in the “severe” category. Vivek Chattopadhyaya, Programme Manager, Air Pollution Control Unit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said that the region adjoining Noida and Ghaziabad is witnessing very high AQI because of industrial pollution and waste burning.

Many other towns in western Uttar Pradesh, like Hapur, Meerut, Bulandshahr have been as polluted, or even more than Delhi and the National Capital Region in the last few days. Larger cities like Kanpur, Lucknow and Varanasi also continue to remain severely polluted but have not made headlines.

Reports from towns in western Uttar Pradesh like Meerut and Muzaffarnagar suggested that the local administration is sprinkling water on roads and polluted areas to reduce dust accumulation.


Bihar’s Initiative To Curb Pollution

Several parts of Bihar are also reeling under the effect of deteriorating air quality after Diwali. In a bid to reduce toxic air in the state, the Bihar Government has decided to ban all 15-year-old vehicles in the state. Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar said that the decision will apply to the government and commercial vehicles and will come into force from Tuesday. Emphasising on reducing pollution from stubble burning, Kumar also said that those farmers who will burn straw will not get the agricultural subsidy.


Farm States To Blame?

With farmers continuing to defy the ban on stubble burning, a blanket of haze engulfed Punjab and Haryana. Several districts in the two states reported an air quality index of “severe” and “very poor” categories. Over 22,000 cases of stubble burning have been witnessed in Punjab and more than 4,200 incidents in Haryana in the recent days, officials said.

The city of Rohtak in Haryana was the most polluted in the country on Sunday, with an air quality index of 498 at 4 pm, as computed by the CPCB. Delhi’s air quality index at the same time was 494, the worst in three years.

Hisar in Haryana reported the worst air quality on Saturday as its AQI stood at 487, according to data provided by the Central Pollution Control Board. Haryana’s other districts Jind (AQI 456), Faridabad (AQI 486) and Kaithal (AQI 408) recorded air quality at “severe” level.

The air quality in other districts such as Ambala (AQI 374), Gurugram (AQI 364), Panipat (AQI 390), Rohtak (AQI 365) and Yamunanagar (AQI 346) was “very poor”, according to the data.

In neighbouring Punjab, the air quality fell in “poor” and “very poor” categories. Bathinda recorded air quality index at 318, followed by Ludhiana at 302, Jalandhar 278, Amritsar at 274, Patiala at 263. AQI in UT Chandigarh was recorded at 280 which is considered as “poor”.


Also Read Delhi Air Pollution: Health Emergency Declared In National Capital, Schools Shut Till Nov 5

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