July, 2020
New Delhi: People wearing masks stage a demonstration against rising pollution levels in Delhi at Jantar Mantar. (Photo: Amlan Paliwal/IANS)

Health emergency declared in India’s Capital New Delhi as pollution ‘severe plus’

New Delhi, Nov 1 (IANS) Pollution in Delhi NCR is of “severe-plus” category, which is hazardous to health, prompting the Supreme Court-mandated panel Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) to declare public health emergency in the national capital region.

The air quality deteriorated to such levels that people, particularly children, elderly and those having respiratory problems, can be vulnerable.

The overall air quality index (AQI) rose to 459 on Friday morning. According to a CPCB official, the AQI reached “severe plus” or “emergency” category on late Thursday night, which is the first time since January this year.

EPCA said air pollution has peaked to hazardous levels, which will have an adverse health impacts on all.

According to EPCA, “current air quality is a combination of the accumulated toxins because of local pollution, which was further spiked due to cracker burning on Diwali night, combined with stubble burning and extremely adverse weather”.

It is also unlikely the quality of air will improve within a week, and according to the IMD, if at all air improves, it is difficult to predict improvement in air quality will lead to a substantial reduction in pollution.

EPCA has called for urgent directions to implement Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), a policy measure to prevent worsening of air quality.

“Since pollution is in severe+ category, which is hazardous to health, schools have been advised to minimize exposure of children, as it will impact their health adversely. Also people are advised to minimize their personal exposure, which includes no exercise”, said Sambhavi Shukla, Programme Officer, Centre for Science and Environment.

EPCA said it is imperative to take urgent steps to stop local sources of pollution, which includes local waste burning, as it will be an addition to the already polluted air. This encompasses stringent vigilance and punitive action against all cases of local pollution, from plastic and garbage burning to dust pollution.

In a public health emergency scenario, people are advised to stay indoors and if possible, cut down on outdoor activity as much as possible.

According to a senior official in the Central Pollution Control Board, during the ongoing health crisis triggered by bad quality air, people should avoid involvement in outdoor activities, which includes long exposure to outside air, and instead stay indoors for as long as possible.

Dehi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has announced that all schools in the Capital will remain closed till Tuesday.

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