This is the least pol­luted Fe­bru­ary in three years

Hindustan Times (Gurugram) - - Metro - HT Cor­re­spon­dent htre­porters@hin­dus­tan­

NEW DELHI: As air qual­ity im­proves and with win­ter gone, the Supreme Court-man­dated En­vi­ron­ment Pol­lu­tion (Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol) Author­ity (EPCA) is likely to lift the Graded Re­sponse Ac­tion Plan (GRAP) from March 1, two weeks be­fore it was sched­uled to come to an end.

Delhi is en­joy­ing its clean­est Fe­bru­ary in three years as far as the air qual­ity in­dex is con­cerned. The num­ber of days with ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’ air qual­ity has gone down while days with ‘mod­er­ate’ air qual­ity have risen.

Data re­leased by the Cen­tral Pol­lu­tion Con­trol Board shows that the num­ber of days in Fe­bru­ary with ‘very poor’ air qual­ity dropped from 15 in 2016 to four in 2017. In 2018 it dropped to three.

Sim­i­larly, ‘poor’ qual­ity days have dropped from 22 in 2017 to 18 this year. Days with ‘mod­er­ate’ air qual­ity has gone up from 0 in 2016 to two in 2017. In 2018, there were six days of mod­er­ate air qual­ity in Fe­bru­ary.

“There were two ‘mod­er­ate’ days in Fe­bru­ary 2017. The AQI was 162 on Fe­bru­ary 7, 2017. This year the AQI dropped to 140 on Mon­day – the low­est AQI recorded in Fe­bru­ary in last three years,” said a se­nior CPCB of­fi­cial.

Sci­en­tists said the clean air is a com­bined ef­fect of mea­sures taken to curb pol­lu­tion and favourable me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions.

“A slew of mea­sures had been rolled out to keep pol­lu­tion lev­els un­der con­trol. Other mea­sures such as the ban on pet coke and fur­nace oil have also yielded re­sults. Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions are also favourable. Strong winds are blow­ing and tem­per­a­ture is ris­ing, which is aid­ing bet­ter air cir­cu­la­tion. This is help­ing in dis­per­sal of pol­lu­tants,” D Saha, for­mer head of the CPCB’s air qual­ity lab­o­ra­tory, said.

Of­fi­cials from the re­gional weather fore­cast­ing cen­tre said the wind speed had been high over the past 10-12 days. On Mon­day, it was around 35 km per hour. In win­ter, wind speed drops to less 5 km per hour.

“Mea­sures un­der the GRAP to com­bat ‘very poor’ and ‘se­vere’ pol­lu­tion lev­els were rolled out for the first time from Oc­to­ber 17, 2017. It was sched­uled to end on March 15, 2018. But with air qual­ity bet­ter and show­ing signs of fur­ther im­prove­ment, the plan is likely to be with­drawn from March 1,” said an EPCA mem­ber.

Even though mea­sures to con­trol lev­els of ‘se­vere’ and ‘very poor’ are likely to be lifted, ban on open burn­ing will con­tinue through­out the year.

Hin­dus­tan Times had ear­lier re­ported that de­spite the toxic haze that had en­gulfed Delhi for more than a week in Novem­ber 2017, the Cap­i­tal breathed com­par­a­tively cleaner air in 2017 than in 2016.

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