New Delhi: Environmentalist Vimlendu Jha on Wednesday urged the Delhi government to ban construction activities in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) for a brief while.
Explaining the reason for the sudden spike in pollution levels, Jha told ANI, “The government should understand the severity of the situation. The factors such as wind coming from other places, coupled with dust from construction activities and the heat, which has caused such a serious crisis. When the air quality index (AQI) is over 600, the government should shut down all construction activities temporarily.”
He further said that cutting trees for construction was leading to a “public health crisis”.
Jha asserted that the Delhi government and the Centre were not taking any steps to deal with the foul air quality of the national capital and its adjoining areas.
“We all talk about air pollution. The Delhi government and the central government do the same. But, I see that nothing has been done in terms of policy or action. They need to tackle this alarming situation with a comprehensive action plan,” he said.
Jha also called for the closure of the Badarpur thermal power plant as it was emitting “poisonous smoke”.
Calling on the Delhi government to issue an advisory on the severe air quality crisis, Jha further said, “They should issue an advisory as people are unaware that haze around Delhi is toxic air which will affect their health in long run.”
Pollution levels in Delhi spiked again since Tuesday evening, pushing the air quality of the national capital and surrounding areas from ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’ category.
According to AQICN, on Wednesday morning, many places in Delhi saw the air quality index (AQI) touching above 500, causing hazy conditions and leading to a dip in visibility.
The AQI of R.K. Puram read 660, while other places like Okhla Phase-II (738), PGDAV College, Sriniwaspuri (686), Punjabi Bagh (714), Mandir Marg (545) and ITO (816) saw the air quality plummet to hazardous levels.
East Delhi’s Anand Vihar was the worst affected area with an AQI of 867.
Air quality in the NCR also witnessed a rise in pollution levels, but remained in the ‘very poor category.’
The AQI in Ghaziabad, Noida, and Gurugram touched 320, 314 and 252 respectively. However, Faridabad recorded an AQI of 175 in the ‘moderate category’, the lowest among all in the Delhi-NCR region, as per AQICN.
Meanwhile, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said the situation will remain the same for the next three days in Delhi NCR, southern Haryana, and Rajasthan.
Explaining the reason for the severe air quality levels, IMD scientist Kuldeep Singh told ANI, “Strong anti-cyclonic winds are flowing in a pattern from Rajasthan, then through western Uttar Pradesh, southern Haryana and finally to Delhi NCR. Due to less rainfall in the region and the winds, which is bringing the dust here has aggravated the situation.”
Asked about chances of rainfall, he added that a western disturbance was approaching to northern India and states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Chandigarh and adjoining parts of Punjab would likely receive rainfall on June 17.