47 km of unpaved roads in Delhi fixed to cut dust pollution | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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47 km of unpaved roads in Delhi fixed to cut dust pollution

Apr 25, 2024 05:58 AM IST

The agency said that it has directed the land and road-owning bodies of Delhi to expedite the work on the pending roads

The environment department on Wednesday said that around 47km of unpaved roads in the Capital have been revamped in the last two months, adding that around 420km of roads remain to be paved, according to data it collected from road-owning agencies.

The directions came as part of the summer action plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi, being prepared by the department. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)
The directions came as part of the summer action plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi, being prepared by the department. (Vipin Kumar/HT Photo)

The agency said that it has directed the land and road-owning bodies of Delhi to expedite the work on the pending roads to curtail sources of local and dust pollution. The directions came as part of the summer action plan to tackle air pollution in Delhi, being prepared by the department.

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“Out of Delhi’s 19,177km of roads, around 467km was identified as unpaved, but in the last two months — in February and March — 46.96km has been paved by these agencies. At present, 420.5km is still pending and will be paved soon,” said an environment department official, asking not to be named. Out of the 47km, 32km was paved by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi and 13.7km by the irrigation and flood control department.

The department said it had deployed over 300 water tankers and sprinklers to cover 2,200km, officials said.

The agency said it has issued instructions to include sprinkling and mechanised sweeping of roads throughout the day and ensure new construction sites were being registered with the Delhi government on its web portal. Construction sites larger than 500sqm have to mandatorily register with the Delhi government.

Environment officials said the latest progress on dust-mitigation measures was reviewed in a meeting held on April 19. Twelve road and land-owning agencies in Delhi have also set up a dust control management cell (DCMC).

“The data collected showed that around 94 metric tonne of dust was being collected each day — around 87 MT by MCD and around 5 MT by the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC),” said the official, on condition of anonymity.

Delhi’s air quality in the pre-monsoon months of April and May, largely hovers in the “poor” category and can even drop to “very poor”, when a dust-storm hits the Capital. Through strong surface winds have helped keep the air quality in check this month, sporadic spells of light rain in between have helped settle dust. Delhi, this month has recorded six “poor” air days and 18 “moderate” air days so far. The last “poor” air day came on April 20, when the AQI was 217, but light rain on April 21 helped improve AQI once again. On Wednesday, the AQI was 178 (moderate).

The Delhi government releases its summer action plan to control air pollution between April and July, every year. The plan for this year will be finalised soon, the official added. Last year, the government unveiled a 14-point summer action plan for the Capital comprising short, medium and long-term measures to tackle issues such as dust pollution, industrial pollution, open burning and solid waste management.

Dust is one of the biggest pollutants in the summer months, leading to a spike in PM10 levels. A source apportionment study by IIT Kanpur in 2016 showed that dust from roads, digging and agriculture accounts for the highest suspended particulate matter sources in Delhi, contributing 38% of PM2.5 and 56% of PM10 in Delhi. Experts have also pointed towards the concentration of ground-level ozone — a highly reactive gas formed in the presence of sunlight from combustion sources like vehicles and power plants — as another source of pollution in summer.

A 2018 study by The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) found dust contributes to around 42% of PM10 in summer.

To combat this, the department said 302 water sprinklers were currently deployed around the city, with capacities ranging from 1,000 to 9,000 litres per day. In addition, anti-smog guns are installed and operational at 48 government buildings. “We have identified another 56 buildings where such guns can be installed,” the official added.

The Commission for Air Quality Management had in 2021, directed agencies and government departments in NCR to create DCMCs to prioritise dust pollution. The agencies that have this cell set up, include MCD, NDMC, Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB), the Public Works Department (PWD), Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Delhi Jal Board (DJB) and the Central Public Works Department (CPWD), among others.

Dipankar Saha, former head of the air laboratory at the Central Pollution Control Board, said dust remains a key problem in summer. Though sprinkling of water can help settle local dust for a limited period, greening across the city was the best solution.

“Sprinkling can control local dust, but cannot stop transported dust, which blows from neighbouring states. Making the topsoil green is the best solution that can be taken into account, as plants and grass can absorb this dust,” said Saha.

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