The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board to provide two sets of data on the Air Quality Index in the national Capital from this year and 2018, PTI reported. The top court sought the information amid Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s comment that his administration may extend the odd-even rule if required.
The Supreme Court asked the state government to submit details of the Air Quality Index between October and November 14. It also asked the government and the pollution control body to produce data between October 1 and December 31, 2018.
The court also ordered the Centre to examine the feasibility of using hydrogen-based fuel technology to tackle air pollution. The central government informed the top court that it was looking into technology, including those employed in Japan. A report on the matter will be submitted by December 3, NDTV reported.
“In our view, little constructive efforts have been made by the government and other stakeholders to find solution to the problem,” the court noted. “The whole of north India, NCR is suffering from the issue of air pollution.”
A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice SA Bobde said that since Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had himself brought to the notice of the court such a technology, the Centre can explore the possibility of using it in Delhi.
The air quality in Delhi and the National Capital Region deteriorated further on Wednesday as the city remained wrapped in haze. Pollution levels were “severe” the entire morning, with the real-time air quality index inching towards emergency levels on a few occasions.
At 3 pm, the overall air quality index of Delhi, calculated based on a 24-hour average by the Central Pollution Control Board, was 454, compared with 425 on Tuesday evening. This index runs up to 500. The index used by the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research, showed a higher reading of 476 as it measures nearly real-time values.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51-100 falls under “satisfactory” zone, 101-200 is “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 is “severe” category.
The odd-even road rationing scheme came back into effect on Wednesday after staying suspended for two days due to Guru Nanak Jayanti. The scheme was earlier supposed to be implemented between November 4 and November 15 but may be extended now after Kejriwal’s announcement.
Last week, the Supreme Court had pulled up the Centre and the Delhi government for their inaction on the air pollution in the national Capital. It also castigated the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh for failing to curb stubble burning, which is contributing to rising pollution levels.
The number of stubble fires in the nearby states of Haryana and Punjab decreased on Tuesday to 480 from 1,846 on November 10, according to SAFAR. Fresh western disturbance is likely to increase the wind speed in Delhi by Friday, which will start improving the air quality.
Pollution during the day on Wednesday was expected to improve slightly but PM2.5 levels, but will start rising immediately after the sunset, the forecast said earlier in the day. The air quality index is likely to worsen at night and on Thursday, and any “reasonable improvement” – that too to the “very poor” category – is expected only by Saturday, SAFAR said.
The city had its worst air of the season on November 3, but the quality had improved after that. However, this week, the pollution levels have picked up again with the falling temperature.