FAQs

Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the country and is once again engulfed with dense smog recording PM2.5 599 (µgm-3) per cubic meters and PM10 955 (µgm-3) per cubic meters on 8th November 2017 which comes in the category of severe and is more than ten times the safe level. The pollution in Delhi is a growing emergency and could reach dangerous levels if measures are not taken to curb it.

Q 1 What is the safe limit for pollution in the city?

The safe limit of pollution is -
PM2.560 micro grams per cubic meter
PM10100 micro grams per cubic meter

(PM means Particulate Matter)

Q 2 What do you understand by PM2.5 and PM10?

PM2.5 is affected by the gas emanating from the vehicles.
PM10 is affected by the dust emerging from the construction of buildings and other sources.

Q 3 How do you define the Air Quality index?

The Air Quality Index has six categories - 

  • Good
  • Satisfactory
  • Moderate
  • Poor
  • Very Poor
  • Severe
Q 4 What is the PM10 Index in various cities across India?

The PM10 Index in various cities is- 

  1. Allahabad-250
  2. Ghaziabad-242
  3. Alwar-240
  4. Barreilly-239
  5. Delhi-217
  6. Moradabad-201
  7. Kanpur-201
  8. Faridabad-199
  9. Amritsar-190
     
Q 5 What does air quality measure?

A5.

The air quality measures eight pollutants - 

  1. PM10 
  2. PM2.5
  3. NO2
  4. SO2
  5. CO
  6. O3
  7. NH3 
  8. Pb
Q 6 What are Delhi’s pollution nodes?

The air quality data reveals that Delhi’d pollution nodes are busy depots, heavy traffic, unpaved roads, landfill sites and industries. 

Q 7 Which areas in Delhi head the pollution list?

ITO, Anand Vihar, R. K. Puram and Punjabi Bagh head the pollution list and government is struggling to find solution to address the plight of these areas. 

Q 8 What are the main reasons attributed to pollution in Delhi?

Few of the reasons which lead to increased pollution in Delhi are-

  1. Ever growing population of Delhi
  2. Construction of houses at the cost of Green Patches.
  3. Unstoppable construction activities in the city both by Public Works Department as well as individuals
  4. Industries operating in the city
  5. Burning of garbage
  6. Large number of vehicles on the roads of Delhi
  7. Climate of Delhi is another factor as on a normal day the air flow in Delhi is 1 metre per second. But in order to end air pollution the speed of air should be 6-10 metre  per second                        
  8. Garbage is dumped haphazardly and burnt indiscriminately. 
  9. Public roads are used for parking causing congestion. 
  10. Burning of stubble is also an important factor. 

All this combined together has led to increase in pollution nodes around Delhi and neighbouring areas.

Q 9 What all gets accounted as a reason for high pollution level in Delhi especially during winters?

As per the study carried out by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur - 2015, in Delhi 38 percent of air pollution accounts for the dust arising from the roads and 20 percent is due to gas emanating from the vehicles. Yet another, is gas emanating from the industries and lastly due to the construction work. The air pollution is not restricted to Delhi but the air quality of Delhi in winters is particularly influenced by -

  • Calm weather
  • Very low Wind Speed
  • Low temperature
  • Wind Direction
  • Humidity Solar Index
  • Reduced mixing height

Fog and smog are two separate environmental phenomena and winter has a role to contribute in its increase. All this prevents dispersion of pollutants and leads to their accumulation. 

Q 10 What is the system of measuring the pollution level?

SYSTEM OF MEASURING AIR POLLUTION LEVEL:-

SAFAR-System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research The air quality in Delhi is monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Board (DPCC). These three agencies collect the data from 28 locations. DPCC monitors two hotspots -

  •    At the airport runway to ascertain the aviation impact
  • Anand Vihar to see the impact of other states and vehicular pollution
Q 11 Is the pollution data revealed real time?

Although it is believed that CPCB and DPCC provide real time data on the air pollution but actually there is a time lag of 2 hours. the agencies release the data after analysing it. 

Q 12 What can be the immediate measures adopted by government to reduce the air pollution level in Delhi as emergency measure?

The immediate emergency measures adopted to curb the pollution level in Delhi are:-

  1. Closure of Badarpur Thermal Plant
  2. Temporary ban on construction and demolition activities
  3. Curb on operation of Diesel Generator sets
  4. Stop the burning of waste in open and at landfill sites
  5. Implementation of odd-even formula for cars
  6. closure of schools to safeguard the children and reduce vehicles on the road
Q 13 What can be done for improving the pollution level in Delhi?

Some of the solutions that we as citizens of the city should be working together with the leaders and the authorities are as under:-

  1. PLANT TREES:-

    By planting more trees in the neighbourhood we will be able to reduce the pollution level by generating more fresh air around us.

  2. WATERING OUR SURROUNDING AREAS:-

    Regularly cleaning the area next to our houses, shops, offices and watering the ground will be helpful, as the dust would not get mixed with air and worsen the problem.

  3. STOP THE USE OF DIESEL GENERATOR SETS:-

    Many houses in Delhi, especially farm houses and big mansions use diesel generator sets which should be stopped in order to keep a check on the pollution levels in Delhi.

  4. STOP BURNING OF COAL AND FIREWOOD:-

    People on the road side dhabas and the slums are burning coal and firewood for food preparation as well as to keep themselves warm in winter. The use of both these items has to be stopped as it increases the smoke and thereby the pollution level in the city.

  5. BAN ON GARBAGE BURNING:-

    A ban should be imposed on the burning of garbage as it emits Carbon Monoxide and adds to pollution. It is mostly seen that the trash collected in the colonies are burnt by the waste collectors. As the waste consists of green leaves, plastic and other material it generates a lot of smoke which is very harmful. The Resident Welfare Associations (RWA) in Delhi should take action against the garbage burning and support in reducing the pollution levels in Delhi.

  6. POLLUTION CAUSED BY VEHICLES:-

    We should resort to use of public transport, use of non-motorised transport and car pooling in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road and help curb /

    MEASURES TO CURB VEHICLE POLLUTION:-

    The pollution controlling authorities in Delhi have warned that the air quality in landlocked Delhi cannot improve unless measures are taken for entire NCR which involves territories governed by the Government of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan.

    • Odd-Even Formula: Delhi government’s odd-even formula should be taken forward in order to control the pollution level in Delhi.

    • Car Pool Lane: The concept of Car Pool Lane (CPL) can be adopted. It was adopted for the first time in 1969 at United States of America (USA) which was called High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) facility. HOV was later applied in Canada, parts of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and China. 

      Under Car Pooling Lane (CPL) formula, the fastest lane is reserved for cars carrying more than one occupant. The single occupant cars are confined to remaining lanes. CPL encourages both odd and even numbered cars to carry more people and ensures them speedier journey. Hence, there are reduced number of cars on the road.

    • Public transport to be made free:In order to facilitate CPL and help in functioning of odd-even and in order to fight pollution, the use of public transport can be made free of charge for a limited period when the pollution attains uncomfortable levels so that people prefer to use of public transport instead of private vehicles and save money.

    • All vehicles should be pollution checked:The laws pertaining to pollution checking should be strictly enforced. All the vehicles should have the Pollution checked certification every three months, in order to stop them from emitting harmful gases.

  7. BUY BS IV VEHICLES ONLY:-

    Based on the Supreme Court order, the two wheeler industry was to switch over from BS III to BS IV vehicles. This is needed in order to reduce the pollution level. All the citizens should ensure that they are buying BS IV vehicles only.

  8. REDUCE CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITIES IN WINTER:-

    As individuals we must ensure that there are reduced construction activities in the city especially in the winters as the wind speed in Delhi is very low and the dust adds to air pollution. If construction is necessary, then we must keep the construction material covered so that the dust particles do not get mixed with air, sprinkle water on the debris to stop it from mixing in air, clear the debris immediately by disposing off the construction waste at the site selected by the respective municipality for the purpose.

Q 14 What action is needed from the government in order to check the increasing pollution level in Delhi?

The air pollution level where Delhi stands now requires immediate action from the government in order to reduce the severity of the problem. In certain cases even  punitive action is required so that people refrain from violations. The important interventions from the Government are as under:-

  1. REDUCE HEAVY CONGESTION OF THE ROADS:-

    Looking at the heavy density of smog in the winters, the government plans to install giant air purifiers and mist sprays at intersections with heavy traffic. Plan for  reducing the numberof  vehicles on the roads, public, transport, non-motorised  transport and traffic management should include common ticketing system for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT).

  2. GOVERNMENT TO ENSURE THE VEHICLES ARE POLLUTION  CHECKED:-

    Delhi should have a common policy wherein Pollution Check Certificate should be issued. All the vehicles should have their vehicles pollution checked every three  months and In case  of violation a fine shall be imposed on the person not in possession of valid POC certificate.

  3. STOP USE OF DIESEL GENERATOR SETS IN INDUSTRIES:-

    As per the Supreme Court Judgement of 2004, all industrial units that have come up in residential or non-conforming areas on or after 1991 should be closed down and  its operations should be immediately stopped.

    As per the Supreme Court Judgement of 2004, all industrial units that have come up in residential or non-conforming areas on or after 1991 should be closed down and  its operations should be immediately stopped.

  4. ENHANCE PARKING RATES:-

    In order to discourage people from using private vehicles the parking rates should be increased 3-4 times so that people prefer to use public transport and thereby  reduce the  traffic and carbon emission on the roads of Delhi.

  5. STOP THE OPERATION OF BRICK KILNS:-

    Workshop should be organised for the brick kiln owners and training should be imparted to them on the new technique.

    Workshop should be organised for the brick kiln owners and training should be imparted to them on the new technique.

  6. STOP ENTRY OF NON-DESTINED TRUCKS IN DELHI:-

    In a study, it is stated that a number of vehicles enter only to cross Delhi and travel to other places. This not only adds to the congestion on the road but also pollution.  Such vehicles which are not destined to Delhi should be stopped out of the NCR and diverted to their respective destination points. This would go a long way in addressing the heavy vehicle traffic on          Delhi roads. Better checking measures needs to be set up at the borders in order to stop the entry of non destined trucks in Delhi. Supreme Court has ordered imposing environment compensation charge for the trucks.

    On an average 85,799 light and vehicle goods enter and exit Delhi from 9 busiest points daily. Delhi’s own vehicles are responsible for 62 percent of particulate load from the transport sector and 68 percent of NOx.

  7. STOP THE SALE OF BS III VEHICLES IN DELHI:-

    Based on the Supreme Court order, of 1st April 2016, the two wheeler industry was to switch over to BS IV for all the new models. As per the inventory of the two  wheeler manufactures they had 5.4 lakh non BS III two wheelers as of 31 March 2017. It was difficult for them to predict the time by which the vehicles would be sold off. Bajaj and Yamaha told that they had already stopped production of BS III models.

  8. CLOSING OF POWER PLANTS IN EXTREME SITUATIONS:- Badarpur Power Plant located near Mathura Road has a huge ash pond. In  summers, the wind speed easily suspends the fly ash. But in the winters as the wind speed is very slow, the  ash adds to the air pollution and thereby its operation needs to be suspended in order to control the level of air pollution.
  9. BURNING OF CROP:-

    Crop burning is another big challenge. The condition worsens every autumn and winter as farmers burn crop stalks in neighbouring states and atmosphere changes  record high  level of air pollution. The farmers in Punjab and Haryana burn the crop which causes a serious dip in the air quality. In 2017, Punjab burnt 15 million tonne of paddy straw

    Massive awareness campaigns are needed to educate the farmers about the ill effects of crop burning. Also the responsible authorities in the respective areas have to provide ready solutions to the farmers as to what should be done with the left-over crop material, how and where should it be safely disposed without adding additional burden on the individuals.

  10. CONSTRUCTION IS A CONTRIBUTING FACTOR:-

    As per the 2015 report brought out by Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, construction is the second biggest contributor for air pollution in the plains of India as environment friendly dust trapping measures are not installed.

    Real Estate sector contributes to 38-40 percent of air pollution. Moreover, this contribution is consistent and continues out throughout the year. 

    The repair and new ventures by the Public Works Department (PWD) anywhere in the middle of the road and the waste dumped on the side adds to the dust cloud.

  11. LANDFILL SITES ARE ANOTHER ISSUE:-

    Fire in garbage dump is a grave concern and difficult to stop as landfill sites have been created in an unscientific manner.

    Patches at nearby Bhalsawa landfill keep burning in the night which poses a great health hazard for the people living in the nearby areas. Many of the residents who happen to be living in slums continuously suffer from breathlessness, cough and  fever due to the smell and gases emanating from these landfill sites.

  12. REVIVAL OF THE WATER BODIES:-

    Water bodies hold the key to minimise the poisonous impact of air pollutants in Delhi. Environmental experts are of the view that water bodies are the solution to  improve the  high toxic air quality. There is urgent need to understand the relevance of water bodies by the policy makers.

    The grass bed around the water body is a good absorber of carbon and other gaseous particles. The soil under water remains in a ‘biotic’ condition and has the capacity to absorb  carbon for 100 years.

    While planning the infrastructure development activities, policy makers should take the River Basin Approach (RBA). Besides the Yamuna, there are other small bodies  which are  on the verge of extinction. Before planning any township or any development project, a research on flood plane carrying capacity should be done which is not a practise followed by the real estate builders as of now.

  13. STOP UNITS WHICH EMIT FURNACE OIL AND PETCOCK:-

    Supreme Court has ordered the stopping of units which emit Furnace Oil and Petcock as it has high content of Sulphur.

    As per Delhi Pollution Control Board, these units are not banned outside Delhi borders and is being used in the industries outside the National Capital Region (NCR) contributing to high pollution levels in the city.

    Pet Coke used in NCR contains Sulphur level between 69,000 ppm to 74,000 ppm and the level of Sulphur Oil is between 15,000 ppm to 20,000 ppm. Furnace Oil is the last grade produced by refineries and is extremely polluting while Pet Coke is a  bye product and is even more polluting. The use of such high Sulphur Fuel is greatly contributing to the pollution in  the region.

    Pet Coke should only be allowed in Cement Plants where combustion and  emissions are controlled. It should be ensured that in case any Pet Coke is required by the Cement Plants, permission for it will have to be sought from the Central Pollution Control Board and EPCA.

  14. STOP INDUSTRIAL OPERATION IN DELHI:-

    The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has found that many industries in North West Delhi are running without the requisite permission and are causing air pollution. Numerous  industrial units are operating in residential areas in Delhi and action is needed to stop its operation by the DPCC. 

    As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) report, fumes emanating from the industries is causing havoc. While heavy and polluting industries have already  moved out of Delhi but smaller industries have multiplied over the years which include extra plating units, dyeing, pickling and forging. Action is needed in such cases.

  15. SETTING UP EFFLUENT TREATMENT PLANT:-

    The Supreme Court has directed all the Pollution Control Boards to inspect all the industrial units discharging effluents and check if each unit had a functional Effluent Treatment  Plant (ETP). Power supply to all the errant units should be disconnected, if ETPs were inoperative or not functioning at the desired level. The effluent needs to be treated before being  discharged into the rivers and water bodies.

    Power supply should only be resumed for the violating industrial units if they set up an ETP or set right the malfunctioning unit. Setting up of ETP is mandatory for getting environmental clearance for starting an industry.

    For industrial clusters, the State government and local self government units are to set up Common Effluent Treatment Plant (CETP) within 3 years.

  16. GOVERNMENT TO TAKE UP MECHANISED CLEANING OF ROADS:-

    The Municipalities should use mechanised technology to clean the roads so that the dust on the road does not get mixed with the air adding to pollution levels in the city.

  17. IDENTIFY ROADS WITH HEAVY TRAFFIC:-

    The roads with heavy traffic should be identified and traffic management measures should be adopted to reduce congestion and thereby vehicular emissions

  18. DISSEMINATE INFORMATION TO THE CITIZENS:-

    People should be informed about the growing levels of pollution and the action required by each one to curb it. 

Q 15 Why are children the most affected by increasing pollution level?

Children breathe faster than adults and end up inhaling higher amount of contaminants that damage their developing airways, lungs and immune system.Children leave early for school when air quality is at its worst. They are more likely to breathe through their mouths which increases the amount of suspended particulates, they inhale as it passes the filtration in the nasal passages. Therefore, all schools especially upto the primary level should be shut in case the pollution level rises so that the children can be kept indoors and their outside play should be curtailed limited from 3.00 to 5.00 pm. N 95 mask should be used to reduce the effect of pollution while moving out in open.

Q 16 How does increased pollution level affect our system?

As per the Indian Medical Association, AQI Index more than 400 is enough for any healthy person to be breathless. With such high AQI levels as Delhi, it is not only affecting the people with existing medical problems like heart and lung diseases but also those who are otherwise healthy. 80 percent of the people presently approaching the doctors are complaining of allergies and lung diseases. Cough or throat discomfort is not an infection but inflammation caused by air pollutants. 
 

Q 17 Which are the Departments responsible for keeping a check on the pollution level in Delhi?

The main Departments which are in-charge of controlling the pollution in Delhi are:-

  1. Municipal Corporation of Delhi
  2. NCR Planning Board
  3. Traffic Police
  4. State Pollution Control Board
  5. Delhi and NCR Transport Department
Q 18 Is there any Plan developed by the Government of Delhi to keep the pollution under check in Delhi?

 A 42 Point programme has been development by Delhi Government covering the main actionable areas-

  1. Encourage the use of Public vehicles
  2. Increase the Road Tax for Private vehicles
  3. Reduce the tax on buses
  4. Parking rates to be increased in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road
  5. Separate landfill to dump the construction waste
  6. Use of LED lights in marriages and parties
  7. Separate passage to be developed on the road for pedestrians and cyclists
  8. Hydro testing of CNG cylinders
  9. Regular checking of vehicles carrying goods at the border of Delhi
  10. Start common ticketing policy