CPCB asks govt, pvt offices to reduce vehicle usage by 30 pc as Delhi pollution soars to worst level

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) As Delhi's air pollution soared to the worst level since December last year, a CPCB task force on Thursday suggested government and private offices and other establishments to reduce vehicle usage by at least 30 percent.

At a review meeting, CPCB Member Secretary Prashant Gargava said the air quality was expected to be within the 'very poor' category on Wednesday. However, low wind speed pushed the air quality to 'severe' category.

V K Soni, the head of IMD's environment monitoring research centre, said the sudden change of wind speed could not be captured by their forecasting model.

Soni said that air quality is likely to improve from Thursday evening due to increased wind speed and will remain in the “very poor” category for the next two days.

“Government and private offices and other establishments are advised to reduce vehicle usage by at least 30 percent (by working from home, car-pooling, and optimising their field activities, etc.)” the task force suggested.

Implementing agencies were asked to step up their efforts, be more vigilant, and ensure quick action, including on redressal of complaints on SAMEER application and other social media platforms to curb polluting activities.

Delhi's air quality dropped to the worst level since December last year on Thursday, with farm fires accounting for 42 per cent of the pollution, the maximum this season so far, according to data from central government agencies.

Experts said unfavourable meteorological conditions – calm winds and low temperatures – and smoke from farm fires in neighbouring states led to a dense layer of haze on Wednesday night as the air quality index entered the 'severe' zone.

The haze thinned on Thursday with higher wind speed helping in dispersion of pollutants. However, the 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 450, the highest since December 30 last year, when it was 446. PTI GVS RHL