Amidst the persistent decline in air quality and rising pollution levels, Delhi's Air Quality Index (AQI) remained within the 'Very Poor' range on Thursday, recording a value of 343 according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) - India. In the meantime, Noida experienced even worse air quality than Delhi, with an AQI of 397, indicating 'very poor' conditions.
Responding to the deteriorating air quality, the Delhi Government has introduced several measures. These include restricting the entry of diesel buses from Haryana and increasing the number of CNG buses on the roads. Delhi's Environment Minister, Gopal Rai, emphasized on Wednesday that the next 15-20 days hold significant importance for Delhi, primarily due to a decrease in temperatures and calm winds, which can impact air quality.
The Delhi High Court has voiced its alarm regarding the worsening air pollution and emphasized that it is the duty of the authorities to take measures to lower the air quality index (AQI). The court pointed out that one in every three children in Delhi suffers from asthma.
During its evaluation of various measures to improve the greenery in Delhi, the court commented on the need to deconcrete trees, allowing them more space to thrive. It also discussed the removal of encroachments from the Southern Ridge area and the allocation of a new forest area for conservation.
Minister Rai has announced that the Delhi Government will implement a five-day ban on construction activities in areas where the Air Quality Index (AQI) exceeds 400. Despite putting measures from Stage 2 of the central government's air pollution control plan into action, pollution levels persist in their upward trend.
Unfavorable weather conditions, in conjunction with emissions from sources such as firecrackers, crop residue burning, and local pollution, jointly contribute to the deterioration of air quality in Delhi-NCR during the winter season. ANI, the news agency, has reported over 2,500 cases of stubble burning this year.
The second phase of the Graded Response Action Plan has been rolled out to combat air pollution. GRAP is a strategy developed to address and mitigate air quality issues within the Delhii NCR. As per an official statement from the Ministry of Environment, this second phase of GRAP introduces a range of measures in Delhi NCR, including ban of coal and wood-burning stoves, increasing the frequency of CNG and electric buses, regular road cleaning, and deploying traffic police to ensure smoother traffic flow.
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