On a day when the air quality index of Delhi shot to scary 340 on SAFAR mobile app, the Narendra Modi government told the Rajya Sabha that several measures have been taken to fight the air emergency. Addressing the Upper House on Thursday, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said that, “In order to abate and control air pollution in Delhi NCR, we have undertaken several initiatives. A high-level task force was constituted under the chairmanship of the Principal Secretary to the PM. Regular review meetings have been held.”
He also added that, “a comprehensive air plan for Delhi NCR has been developed identifying the timelines and implementing agencies for actions delineated. Centre has notified a graded response action plan for Delhi NCR for different levels of pollution.”
During the discussion, BJP’s Vijay Goel was rebuked by Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman Harivansh Narayan Singh. “You cannot display all these objects in the house,' Singh told Goel after BJP MP showed masks, mineral water bottles, air purifier pictures and Delhi government advertisements during debate on air pollution.
Meanwhile, an expert at Skymet Weather, a private forecaster, said moderate winds from November 23 would bring some relief but it will be temporary as another western disturbance from November 25 will again cause the wind speed to dip. "There are chances of good rain on November 25 and 26. If that happens, pollutants will be washed away. Otherwise, a long-term relief is expected only after November 28," he said. The Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting And Research also said that relief is expected only on Saturday with an increase in wind speed, which will disperse pollutants faster.
The World Health Organization says that air pollution kills an estimated seven million people worldwide every year. The WHO data shows that 9 out of 10 people breathe air containing high levels of pollutants. More than 80% of people living in urban areas that monitor air pollution are exposed to air quality levels that exceed WHO guideline limits, with low- and middle-income countries suffering from the highest exposures, both indoors and outdoors. Some 91% of those premature deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries, and the greatest number in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific regions.