Delhi government orders closure of 417 polluting units as air pollution reaches alarming levels

Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal has directed more deployments of environment marshals.

Delhi government orders closure of 417 polluting units as air pollution reaches alarming levels

NEW DELHI: The government in Delhi has orders the closure of as many as 417 polluting units as the air quality deteriorated further in the national capital on Monday.

The decision in this regard was taken after pollution levels were recorded at the alarming levels in Delhi and predicted to soon come under the ''severe '' category.

During a meeting held on Monday, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal directed the authorities to shut down at least 113 polluting industries, including 67 in highly-polluted Bawana and Narela, for not converting to piped natural gas. 

The meeting was attended by Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain and Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) Chairman Bhure Lal, among others. 

During the meeting, Delhi Pollution Control Committee officials informed that they have deputed environment marshals for night patrolling in several pollution hotspots including Bawana, Narela, Mundka, Nangloi, Punjabi Bagh, Dwarka, Anand Vihar, Bhalaswa and Ghazipur.

Baijal directed more deployments of environment marshals.

Meanwhile, the health experts have cautioned people to abstain from any form of brisk physical activity even in indoor gymnasiums as the air quality declined in Delhi and NCR.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was at 367 points on Monday against 366 on Sunday and in "very poor" category. 

However, it varied in different parts of the city. 

The AQI for Ghaziabad was worst in the entire NCR at 430 points, a rise of 15 points in 24 hours, and remains in the "severe" category. It was most polluted also in terms of PM2.5 at 347 units. 

In Gurugram, the AQI was 389 or "very poor" against 403 or "severe" on Sunday.

TK Joshi, an Environment Health Advisor with the Union Ministry of Environment, said that contrary to the common perception, indoor exercise including in gyms is unlikely to lessen the effects of pollution.

"In these conditions, physical exertion, especially indoor gyming, is not good for the cardiovascular system and should be avoided. The houses or indoor gyms are not air-tight and most of the time they are as polluted as the outdoors, particularly if there are limited vents in buildings," Joshi said. 

"Only leisure walking in parks, which are at least 500 meters away from major roads, or walking in parks having good green cover is a better option," he added. 

Joshi said even masks may also not be of much use given the high levels of pollutants. 

"Masks would rather harm those with heart and lung ailments. Even efficacy of N95 or N99 masks depends on how it fits on the face. It can tackle only particles to a limited extent and not gases," Joshi said.

Polash Mukherjee, a Senior Research Associate with the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said that any kind of cardiovascular exercise, "even if done indoors, will have an adverse effect on health". 

Almost all places in the NCR saw a rise in the major pollutants - PM2.5 and PM10 - in the air with diameters less than 2.5mm and 10mm, respectively.

She said some international studies have noted that particle pollutants have a direct effect on life expectancy. 

The average concentration of PM2.5 and 10 in Delhi on Monday was 228 microgrammes per cubic meters and 420 units, against 217 and 402, respectively, on Sunday.

Across 48 areas in NCR, the average PM10 volumes saw a spike up to 407 units from 394 units a day earlier. 

PM2.5 levels were 221 on Monday and 234 on Sunday. 

The safe limit for PM2.5 is 60 units as per national standards and 25 units according to the international standards. For PM10, up to 100 units is safe from national standards and 50 units international standards. 

In Delhi, 17 of 36 regions had "severe" or "severe-plus" air quality at 7 p.m on Monday, based on the high levels of particle pollution.

Rohini in west Delhi was the most polluted with PM2.5 recorded at 366 units. 

Six other regions in the national capital -- Jahangirpuri (323) and Vivek Vihar (315) in east Delhi, Narela (310) in west, Anand Vihar (315) in east and Punjabi Bagh (312) in north - also had PM2.5 levels over 300 units.

(With IANS inputs)