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Air quality worsens; CPCB for minimising outdoor exposure

Air quality worsens; CPCB for minimising outdoor exposure

NEW DELHI: A Central Pollution Control Board-led task force has advised people to minimise outdoor exposure for the next three to five days and avoid using private vehicles, with Delhi's air quality slipping into the severe category. The national capital witnessed its second-highest pollution level this year on Sunday with authorities saying unfavourable meteorological conditions are likely to keep the air quality in the severe category for the next couple of days.

While the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data showed the overall air quality index (AQI) at 446, the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) gave a much higher AQI of 471. The CPCB-led task force held a meeting on Saturday in response to the high PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) levels which climbed to the severe plus emergency category.

Exposure to PM2.5 pollutants can lead to diseases like cancer and increases chances of stroke. A number of recommendations were made at the meeting to the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority: agencies to intensify ground actions to enforce measures already in place particularly to control emissions from vehicles and the burning of biomass.

The other recommendations made are: agencies concerned to increase surveillance to find industrial waste dumping or burning especially in hotspots that are vulnerable to high pollution level, water sprinkling and mechanized sweeping to be intensified and traffic police to ensure smooth flow of traffic, including during long holidays. The task force also urged people to avoid using private vehicles particularly diesel vehicles and minimize outdoor exposure for the next three to five days, especially for those with respiratory illness, the CPCB said.


'To preserve Yamuna, build a sense of 'ownership' in public'

NEW DELHI: A committee overseeing the cleaning of Yamuna river has stressed the need to raise awareness about the importance of the river and its floodplains so that a sense of 'ownership' is created among the people and it is preserved. The monitoring committee, that was set up by the NGT Chairperson Justice AK Goel in July, has suggested forming a nodal agency for the task.

"Presently, there is no ownership of the river Yamuna. That is because it means nothing to the citizens as it is providing no opportunity for cultural activities, leisure or recreation," it said. There needs to be aware of why the floodplains are "sacrosanct they need conservation," it has observed.

The committee comprising retired expert member BS Sajwan and former Delhi chief secretary Shailaja Chandra, has been directed to submit an action plan and detailed report on cleaning of the river by December 31. The committee has submitted the details to the Delhi government. In the action plan, the committee has also noted that involvement of citizens requires that there is knowledge of why the river is important and why it is worth preserving and restoring. "There is a need to plan for awareness building and permissible activities beyond the flood plains but for that, there needs to be a nodal department to build awareness by spearheading permissible events and activities," the committee has said.

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