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Peak Pollution Level in Delhi at 'Lowest', says SC-appointed Panel

263 Days ago
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NEW DELHI: The car rationing "odd-even" scheme, which has reduced the traffic volume, has managed to bring down the peak level of pollution in the national capital to its "lowest", a Supreme Court appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has said.EPCA said both particulate matter and nitrogen oxide load from cars have reduced substantially, by as much as "40 per cent", in the first week of its implementation thus validating the importance of the car rationing measure.In its analysis, the apex court appointed panel observed that current weather condition in Delhi currently is at "emergency levels". Delhi Dialogue Vice Chairman Ashish Khetan claimed that the peak level was at a "historic low".EPCA based its findings from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) data.Peak levels of November, December and January were 606, 524 and 391 micrograms per cubic metre respectively, it said."The earlier smog episodes have seen much higher peaks and much more rapid build up compared to the rise that happened during the first week of odd and even programme. This proves reduced traffic volume has arrested the peaking of pollution," its report said.The fall in quantity of particulate matters and oxides of nitrogen indicates reduced exposure to toxic pollution from vehicles on roads and close to road side, where the maximum impact of pollution is felt, it said.The report said there has not been a single good air quality day this winter in the national capital. November 2015 had 73 per cent of days in 'severe category' against 53 in November 2014 while December 2015 had 67 as against 65 per cent in December 2014.The analysis pinned the blame on the Western Disturbance, that it said has brought moisture, which traps pollutants.This combined with near still and no-wind conditions have made conditions are very bad for air quality, the report said.The winter months of November and December 2015 show higher number of days in severe category - four times the safe standard - which is the worst category according to the National Air Quality Index."This brings out the clear impact of the odd and even scheme on the pollution levels. Even when wind was not there to blow it away the scheme succeeded in arresting the upward trend."The odd-even scheme is designed for immediate relief as it takes off the roads almost half the private cars, which contribute to pollution from their tailpile and pollution because of congestion...This is needed to protect public health in a city where every third child has impaired lungs," it said.Delhi government must be permitted to continue with the scheme and if these adverse weather conditions continue then our recommendation is that the programme should also be continued, it said.Among other benefits of the policy, the report identified reduced congestion, which it said that has further contributed towards lowering of pollution. "Emissions from vehicles caught in congestion increases two times due to idling and frequent acceleration and deceleration."

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