According to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), pollution levels in the national capital tend to peak between November 1 and November 15, coinciding with an increase in stubble-burning incidents in Punjab and Haryana.

Delhi’s Environment Minister, Gopal Rai, has organized a meeting with relevant government departments to ensure compliance with the Supreme Court’s recent directives on air pollution. The meeting will also be attended by Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot and Revenue Minister Atishi. In response to the Supreme Court’s guidelines, Minister Gopal Rai emphasized the need for cooperation and action to address air quality issues and the cessation of stubble burning in affected states.

Minister Gopal Rai has also criticized opposition parties for politicizing the pollution crisis, stressing the importance of all parties, including the BJP, Congress, and AAP, working together to combat the issue. This comes in response to remarks made by Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar, who urged cooperation and assistance in tackling the problem, highlighting that pollution is a matter of public health and not politics.

The air quality in Delhi continues to remain in the ‘severe’ category, with post-harvest paddy straw burning in neighboring states contributing to a significant portion of the pollution. The concentration of PM2.5, a fine particulate matter known to pose health risks, exceeds safe limits by a considerable margin, raising concerns about public health. Several cities in the Indo-Gangetic plains are also grappling with hazardous air quality.

The Delhi government is reintroducing the odd-even scheme to address the worsening air quality. Under this scheme, cars with odd and even number plates will be allowed to operate on alternate days between November 13 and November 20. Additionally, in-person classes in schools have been suspended until November 10 to protect the health of students.

The Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi-NCR predicts that the region will experience severe air quality for several more days, posing health risks to the residents. Prolonged exposure to high pollution levels can lead to various respiratory problems and increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Stringent measures under the Central government’s Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), including a ban on construction work and polluting truck entry into the capital, are now in effect in Delhi. These actions aim to address air pollution based on different stages of severity.

Unfavorable weather conditions, combined with local pollution sources like vehicular emissions, paddy straw burning, and firecrackers, contribute to the annual deterioration of air quality in Delhi-NCR during the winter months. This period typically coincides with a surge in stubble-burning incidents in Punjab and Haryana.

The persistent air pollution issue in Delhi-NCR is a major public health concern, and it has been linked to a significant reduction in life expectancy, with the city’s air quality ranking among the poorest in the world’s capitals. A report from the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC) revealed that air pollution is substantially reducing life expectancy in Delhi, highlighting the urgent need for effective measures to combat this problem.

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