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'Number of days with good air quality on rise in Delhi'

NEW DELHI: There has been a nearly 15 percent decline in particulate matter 2.5 and 10 levels in Delhi in the last three years, and the number of days with good air quality is also on the rise, the government said on Friday. Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar, during Question Hour in the Lok Sabha, said air pollution in the national Capital had started aggravating in 2007, but it was only in 2014 that action to curb it was undertaken. Listing out steps taken by his government to tackle air pollution in Delhi, he said reducing vehicular pollution was one of the important objectives while combating the problem.

The government had built two peripheral roads in the last four years, so that heavy vehicles did not enter the national Capital, he said. The minister said the Badarpur Thermal Power Plant had been shut down and steps had been taken to bring down instances of stubble burning. "In the last three years, PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels have come down by 15 and 16 per cent respectively. The 'good', 'moderate' and 'satisfactory' days of air quality, too, have gone up from 106 in 2016, 152 in 2017 and 159 in 2018," he said. A rise in PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels leads to respiratory diseases.

He said stubble burning instances in the neighbouring states of Delhi, too, had come down by 15 per cent and the government was working to reduce the instances. Efforts were being taken to convert the stubble waste to energy and the Centre was coordinating with the five states to deal with this issue, Javadekar added.

Six cities in the National Capital Region — Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Bhiwadi, Delhi and Noida — represent almost half the number of Indian cities in the top 20. Gurugram was the most polluted city in the world in 2018, closely followed by Ghaziabad, recording 135.8 μg/m3 average daily PM 2.5 levels, more than 13 times the limit of 10 μg/m3 recommended by the WHO.

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