Delhi pollution sees fresh spike despite odd-even scheme

Four days after its implementation, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's ambitious odd-even car scheme is still failing to show results in improving the city-state's poisonous air.

Delhi's air pollution today again remained consistently on the higher side, plunging it into the 'severe' category at times. It saw a spike from around 8 am, when the 'odd-even' restrictions began, amid the presence of smog.

Weather experts said having fewer cars on the city's roads seemed to have no immediate impact on pollution levels due to variations of weather conditions, calm wind movement and a fall in daytime temperature.

The Delhi government, however, maintained that analysis of data collected by mobile units of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee at 15 locations on Monday shows that Central Delhi and other areas not bordering NCR towns continue to show improvement in air quality.

It has also undertaken the study of PM 1 particles in Delhi's air, particles which are finer than PM 2.5 and PM 10, whose results would be made public after January 15, at the end of the enforcement period of the pilot scheme.

The hourly update of System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) showed an upward trend of PM 2.5 and PM 10 concentration since morning. At 7 pm, PM 2.5 was at 266 micrograms per cubic metre.

Mandir Marg, R K Puram, Anand Vihar and IHBAS stations of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had air quality in the severe category. Severe category is declared when PM 2.5 crosses 250 micrograms per cubic metre while anything between 120-25 is regarded as 'very poor'.

"The situation would remain similar till at least January 9 due to variations owing to the presence of two sets of Western Disturbance. The wind intensity has also come down significantly. The chill will be back only after January 9," Airport Met in-charge R K Jenamani said.

As per the hourly air quality index average of IndiaSpend, Connaught Place had PM 2.5 at 365 and PM 10 at 609, which falls in the severe category, at 8.30 PM.

At Anand Vihar and R K Puram, PM 2.5 was at 563 and 509 at 12.50 PM as per DPCC readings. The safe limits of these harmful micro particles, that can enter the respiratory system and subsequently the blood stream, are 60 and 100 respectively.

The government said that in nine locations of Central and South Delhi, the PM 2.5 levels ranged between 136 and 241 on Monday. "These measurements are less than the average measurements in these nine locations during previous years at this time of the year," it said.

Levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 in six locations in East and North East Delhi, bordering Uttar Pradesh were recorded on the higher side in comparison to Central and South Delhi, the government said adding that it proves that NCR towns need to take effective steps to supplement the measures.

The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), in its analysis, observed that yesterday's pollution levels had severely violated the prescribed limits.

The 24-hour averaged concentrations at four locations, Mandir Marg, R K Puram, Punjabi Bagh and Anand Vihar, were found to be 5, 5.4, and 1.1 times higher than the safe standards respectively, TERI said.

"Analysing the trends between December 24 to January 3, PM 2.5 concentrations have increased by 72-176 per cent at the four stations. However, this is mainly due to reduced wind speeds during the period," the green body said.

It said an immediate assessment of the impact of the odd-even scheme that came into force on 1 January was not possible considering the impact of sources other than emissions from cars and meteorological influences.