Delhi pollution: Several areas in national capital in severe category
Delhi’s average air quality index (AQI) plunged to 468 from 392 Thursday due to unfavourable northwesterly air that brings pollutants from the stubble fires.
RK Puram and Okhla Phase 2 emerged as the worst pollution hot spots in Delhi on Friday as the city recorded its worst air quality since November 12, 2021, data recorded at air monitoring stations across the city showed.
Delhi’s average air quality index (AQI) plunged to 468 from 392 Thursday due to unfavourable northwesterly air that brings pollutants from the stubble fires,calmer wind and dipping temperatures. However, AQI almost touched 500, the maximum value on the central pollution control board’s monitoring metric, at several air quality monitoring stations. RK Puram registered an AQI of 500 and Okhla Phase 2 station logged 499.
At 4.30pm, five stations had an AQI in excess of 490. National Stadium and IGI Airport both recorded AQI values of 495 and 492, respectively. Dwarka Sector 8 station logged an AQI of 493 and Najafgarh and Karni Singh Shooting Range stations both had identical recordings of 491, the CPCB data showed,
Eight stations recorded AQIs between 480 and 490, these included Wazirpur (489), Sonia Vihar (485), Rohini (482, Punjabi Bagh (484), New Moti Bagh (488), Mundka (486) and Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium (484).
Delhi first identified 13 pollution hot spots in 2018 because these locations consistently had a higher annual PM 2.5 concentration than Delhi’s average. These included Anand Vihar, Mundka, Wazirpur, Jahangirpuri, RK Puram, Rohini, Punjabi Bagh, Okhla, Bawana, Vivek Vihar. Last month, the city government added eight new areas to the list such as Shadipur, ITO, Mandir Marg, Nehru Nagar, Patparganj and Moti Bagh.
HT had reported last month that several locations have emerged in the city that were consistently recording PM 2.5 levels that were similar or even higher than the existing hot spots, establishing the need for expansion of focussed efforts to act on local sources of pollution.
Local Okhla residents said besides other local sources and meteorological factors, the waste-to-energy plants which burns waste to generate electricity, was one of the major reasons for higher pollution in the area. “The plant has been repeatedly fined for causing pollution, but nothing is done beyond that. It is way more harmful than stubble burning because there are dangerous toxic pollutants here from burning all kinds of unsegregated waste,” said Binayak Malik, general secretary, Sukhdev Vihar RWA in Okhla Phase 2.
Mukesh Khare, air quality expert at IIT Delhi, said high traffic density in and around RK Puram, a big residential pocket, is a major reason for poor air in the area. “At RK Puram, the traffic density is high and there is a traffic signal close to the monitoring station where vehicles stop. Additionally, there is an unauthorised settlement nearby where household burning is possible,” he said.
While the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) air monitoring station at Anand Vihar, usually among the most polluted areas in the Capital, was out of order, the CPCB station at the spot recorded an AQI of 380 at 9pm. Anand Vihar is one of the biggest transport hubs in the city with an inter-state bus terminus (ISBT), Metro station, rail terminus, a freight container depot and a massive landfill -- all existing within a radius of five kilometres.
Following an inspection early on Friday, transport department officials said they will write to the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Limited (DIMTS) to stop parking of city buses for long hours within the ISBT premises.