New Delhi: Air quality in the National Capital Region saw a marginal improvement from "severe plus" to "severe" on Tuesday.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) the average Air Quality Index (AQI) of NCR, including Delhi, was 398 with major pollutant PM2.5 (particles with diameter less than 2.5mm) at 397 units at 6 p.m. This is considered "very poor".
The average AQI of Delhi at 6 pm on Tuesday was 407 with PM 2.5 at 406 units, considered "severe".
Since November 7, Delhi residents were breathing toxic air with average AQI ranging between 460 and 500. PM2.5 reached dangerous 945 units at some places, including Ghaziabad, 37 times the safe limit.
"Delhi is out of an emergency but not out of danger. The conditions are expected to get better by November 16 and 17. Unfortunately, we are happy even though the air quality is very poor. In many countries, there is an emergency-like condition at this air quality level, which we are cherishing as an improvement," Usman Naseem, a member of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority, told IANS.
According to data from System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research, six out of 10 monitoring stations across the NCR fell out of "severe" zone to "very poor".
Meanwhile earlier, hours after the National Green Tribunal refused to exempt women and two-wheelers and ordered that diesel vehicles over ten years old be taken off the roads immediately on Tuesday, the Delhi government again moved the green panel seeking the same exemption for a year or till 2,000 buses are added to the public transport fleet.
The fresh petition also sought a direction from a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar that the neighbouring states should also be asked to implement the scheme.
The modified petition was filed hours after the NGT expressed concern over the high pollution level, terming it an "environmental and health emergency" and saying that the city should "not gift infected lungs to its children," as per PTI.
The fresh petition claimed that denying exemption to the two-wheelers, whose number is above 68 lakh, and women would cause great hardship and may affect safety of women.
"The conditions prescribed for such implementation are such in nature that the implementation of the scheme will cause great hardship to two-wheeler owners. This may affect the safety and security of women drivers also," it said.
Earlier, the green panel had refused to exempt women and two-wheelers and ordered that diesel vehicles over ten years old be taken off the roads immediately.
(With Agency inputs)