Delhi air ‘severe,’ EPCA bans industrial activity, construction

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New Delhi, Dec 24 (IANS) With pollution remaining ‘severe’ for the third consecutive day in the national capital, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) on Monday banned construction work and industrial activities in pollution hotspots till Wednesday.

“Units located in hotspot industrial areas of Wazirpur, Mundka, Bawana, Narela, Sahibabad and Faridabad will remain closed until December 26,” EPCA chairman Bhure Lal said in a letter to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev.

Delhi has been experiencing its worst ambient air since Diwali. The city’s air quality remained in the ‘severe’ category for the third consecutive day due to several “unfavourable” meteorological conditions. At 4 p.m. on Monday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 448.

The EPCA has also directed the Delhi traffic police to deploy special teams and ensure congestion-free traffic flow particularly in identified high-traffic corridors.

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“The police department should ensure non-destined heavy duty vehicles pass through the eastern and western peripheral expressways,” the EPCA said.

As per the recommendations made by the Central Pollution Control Board, the EPCA has also asked the agencies concerned to ensure strict action against illegal industries, intensify ground actions and make all efforts to control pollution activities, particularly waste burning.

Across 35 areas in Delhi where pollution is actively monitored, the average concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 was 395 and 562 microgrammes per cubic meters on Monday at 7 p.m.

The same PM2.5 and PM10 concentration across 48 monitoring stations in the NCR was 368 and 533.

The safe limit for PM2.5 is 60 units as per national standards and 25 units according to international standards. For PM10, up to 100 units is safe by national standards and 50 units by international standards.

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Both PM2.5 and 10 get into the lungs and cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases, but PM2.5 is more dangerous because it mixes with the blood stream.

“The air quality in Delhi-NCR is expected to remain in the severe-plus zone until Tuesday. Recovery of air quality mainly got delayed due to slowing down of surface winds and persistent thin layer of fog, which normally do not stay for long,” System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research said in its daily pollution analysis.

The agency said the formation of Radiation fog – a thin layer of fog on the surface – triggered secondary aerosol formation leading to the multiplication of finer particles line PM2.5 and even PM10.

“An improvement is expected from Tuesday evening only when radiation fog gets dissipated with sufficient sunshine, ” it said.

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Delhi’s air quality turned ‘severe’ on Saturday and continued to remain so on Sunday with AQI at 450, making Sunday the second most polluted day of the year.

–IANS

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