New Delhi, Nov. 1 -- Onset of cold weather in the Capital has brought its adverse side -- air pollution five times higher than the national standard and worse that India's most polluted hubs such as Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh and Ankleshwar in Gujarat.
The air pollution data available with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) shows that the pollution levels in Delhi on Thursday was highest in 2012 with Anand Vihar recording respirable suspended particular matter (RSPM) level of 709 in per cubic meter of air (ug/m3).
The average RSPM - general measure of pollutants in air -- in Delhi was 571 ug/m3 more than five times the national standard of 100 ug/m3 for the pollutant in residential areas.
The worrisome fact for health of Delhiities is that the winter RSPM levels has more than doubled in the last five years and is higher than the mid-1990s level when public transport used to run on diesel.
Till mid 2000s, busy Central and South Delhi areas were high air pollution zones. Now the dirty air has spread to even cleaner residential areas such as Rohini in north Delhi and Dwarka in west Delhi with RSPM level of more than 500 ug/m3.
"The data clearly shows that the increasing number of vehicles in the Capital is the biggest contributing factor for rising air pollution," said Anumita Roy Choudhary of advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment.
Unlike other cities, industrial activity is restricted in Delhi and therefore, around 90 cars for every 1,000 people in the city is the prime contributor for rising pollution levels.
Winter is bad for people with heart ailments and breathing problems as the pollution remain suspended in air for long period in absence of heat for quick disbursal of the pollutants.
Its health impact is also obvious. Doctors at All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Patel Chest Institute said there was an increase in number of patients coming with breathing problems.
"We are advising asthmatic patents to remain indoors for as much time as possible or wear a air filter mask when on the roads," said a doctor at Patel Chest Institute.
The situation is unlikely to improve in the coming days. The Meteorological Department has forecasted dry weather for the next one week with marginal dip in temperatures.
One will have to bear high air pollution as the Delhi government is yet to finalise its action plan to check the rising dirty air.
Earlier this year, Yale University had ranked Delhi's air as most polluted in the world.
Air pollution levels in Delhi on Thursday afternoon
Punjabi Bagh (West Delhi) 478
Mandir Marg (New Delhi) 480
RK Puram (south-west Delhi) 630
Anand Vihar (east Delhi) 709
Civil Lines (north Delhi) 561
Note: all units in ug/m3 (micro grams in per cubic meter of air) for respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM)
National standard for RSPM is 100 ug/m3.
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.