Millennium Post

Delhi's pollution level rose sharply in last two weeks

New Delhi: The Capital, which has been reeling under a scorching heat wave, has seen a major spike in pollution levels in the last two weeks.

With the pollution already making the lives of Delhites tough, the increasing occurrence of dust storms has wreaked havoc and led to augmentation of pulmonary and cardiac cases at the city-hospitals.

"Dust storms are a common occurrence in the summer season but this year the magnitude and scale at which it happened was massive. In urban settings, the pollution gets more aggravated because it becomes toxic in nature," said noted environmentalist Anumita Roy Choudhary, who attributed the alarming situation to increasing desertification and reckless and unregulated developmental projects.

The dust cloud has been said to begin from the arid state of Rajasthan and has spread to the neighbouring state of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana because of the strong Westerly winds.

Data from the World Health Organisation shows that Delhi recorded the Particulate Matter 2.5 levels at 143 micrograms per cubic meter, which is 14 times higher than the recommended safe limit.

Despite Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal's emergency orders to stop all kinds of civil construction work in the city from 15 June to 17 June, numerous places were identified where Public Works Department(PWD) and Central Public Works Department(CPWD) were seen flouting the orders.

The prolonged pre-monsoon dry spell has made the situation worse, with the construction work-dust becoming airborne and even more problematic.

The worsening air pollution across north India in the summer months has led to speculation that the pollution in the megacity Delhi is just not only a winter-phenomenon, albeit it is a year-long public health dilemma. "No-wind conditions develop in the winter season and the air/wind gets trapped in the city. So, there is little chance of duststorms happening in winter, but make no mistake, winter pollution is much harsher and severe," said Choudhary.

Health advisories have clearly stated that citizens need to avoid any outdoor exposure and strenuous physical exercise during these dust storms. "Delhi government needs to gear up and start abiding by the environment action-plans already in place," said another environmental activist.

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