Zero visibility, toxic air; Delhi woes continue

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 09 Nov 2017 08:52:31


NEW DELHI,

THE toxic haze hanging over Delhi thickened on Wednesday, leading to near zero visibility at many places, even as air quality slid further and touched calamitous levels.
The air quality index of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had a score of 487 on a scale of 500, indicating ‘severe’ levels of pollution, which can affect even healthy people and “seriously impact” those with existing diseases.
If the score touches 500 and persists there for at least 48 hours, measures like odd-even and a ban on construction and demolition activities will come into force across the Delhi- NCR
under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).


But confusion prevailed over the measures announced by the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) including lowering metro fares during off-peak hours and hiking parking rates by up to four times.


The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Limited (DMRC) said they were on course to augment their services in terms of increasing frequency but remained non-committal on slashing fares temporarily.


The civic bodies are yet to announce any hike in parking fees. However, the EPCA had made it clear on Tuesday that its orders are legally binding and have to be enforced once the chief secretaries of the respective states issue them.


It was the Environment Ministry which, in January, had empowered the EPCA through a gazette notification to enforce the GRAP to combat air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region.
According to the forecast of the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences’ System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the 24-hour-average concentrations of PM2.5 and PM10 will be around 420 and 678 micrograms per cubic metre.