New Delhi 2nd November 2019 | As Delhi has been trapped in toxic smog before Diwali and situation further deteriorated post Diwali, an unprecedented public health emergency has been declared in Delhi and nearby areas by the pollution control body mandated by the Supreme Court. Schools in the capital have also been closed till November 5 to minimise exposure of children to pollution.

Post-Diwali readings at air quality monitoring stations again off the range and recorded PM2.5 values at over 1000 micrograms/m3 against WHO daily safe limit of 25 micrograms/m3  and India’s national limits (NAAQS) of 60 micrograms/m3 making it hazardous.

The attribution of firecrackers and stubble burning in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and parts of Western Uttar Pradesh has definitely added to the already high pollution levels in the region. The PM2.5 levels which now are at severe category according to India’s Air Quality Index situation had already been recorded in very poor category over the past 15-20 days after the rains have stopped earlier last month.

Commenting on the scenario, Avinash Chanchal, Greenpeace India said, “These episodic events of firecracker bursting and stubble burning definitely makes the air worse for breathing and needs strict and urgent actions to reduce the prevailing air pollution levels, but other permanent and regional sources such as pollution from transport, Industries and power plants is present all around the year and all of these also needs to be paid attention to and acted upon urgently.”

“Absence of systematic and sustained efforts towards making the alternatives available, mindset shift change and long term sustained public awareness campaigns and lack of strict action on big pollution sources across India is the main reason we have been facing this health emergency year after year.”

“There are other more significant sources that are responsible for collectively deteriorating air quality. If the Governments are  committed and serious towards protecting and safeguarding public health from air pollution, then we need stricter regulatory action, better designed and implemented awareness campaigns to enforce existing plans and to strengthen them.”

“We should give up on the practice of letting the polluters pollute and be okay with it. One such example would be to penalise and stop the operation of all such polluting power plants which did not even comply with revised timeline of 2019 (revised from earlier timeline of 2017 December) for retrofitting their pollution control devices as per emission standard notification of 2015 for coal based power plants. This might give us a little respite from hazardous air pollution in coming months”,, Avinash Chanchal concludes.

 

For further media queries, please contact:-

Rohin Kumar, Media Specialist , Greenpeace India; rohin.kumar@greenpeace.org

Mobile:- 9013971997