The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority said on Saturday that it will call a meeting of officials of industries in Delhi to discuss the possibility of shifting from coal to natural gas, PTI reported. EPCA member Sunita Narain said coal industries, oil and gas companies in the capital feel there is a need to find a better fuel which is cleaner, “but there is a price for it that has to be paid”.

“We cannot compromise ease of breathing for ease of business,” she added. “We cannot survive this. Either we have to find a better fuel or we need to find ways to subsidise cleaner fuel.”

Another member of the authority said: “We need to understand how they [the industries] moving [towards natural gas], what is their economics, who is not moving.” The authority also said that the biggest challenge in shutting down illegal industries is that they shift to areas where they cannot be controlled, and continue to pollute the city.

On Friday, EPCA Chairperson Bhure Lal had said the authority sealed 140 units that were dealing in tar oil, rubber oil and synthetic engine oil last week.

Chest specialist Arvind Kumar said that the pollutant PM2.5 can hamper brain development by 10-20%. “We are going to make our next generation retarded because of our pleasures that is adding to air pollution,” he lamented. “Evidence is now emerging that heart attacks, brain attacks are linked to air pollution. The World Health Organization has called it the second tobacco epidemic and if we don’t control this menace, it will threaten our very existence.”

The Air Quality Index in Delhi stood at 354 at 8 pm on Saturday, in the “very poor” category, the Central Pollution Control Board’s website showed. An Air Quality Index between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.