The newly-appointed Commission for Air Quality Management has said it will adopt necessary steps to reduce air pollution in Delhi, reported PTI. The panel said that it will also formulate appropriate policies and strategies to curb stubble burning.

The Central Pollution Control Board’s 24-hour average air quality index at 9 am on Tuesday was 361, which falls in the very poor category. According to the agency’s air quality index or AQI, any reading above 100 on a scale of 500 is progressively unsafe for health.

While the pollution control board uses 24-hour average data, the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ SAFAR, or System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research, reports real-time figures. The government-run monitoring agency said the overall AQI struck 349 in Delhi at 10 am.

At 10 am, the situation in the National Capital Region’s Gurugram area was no better with two of four stations recording “very poor” levels of air quality in CPCB’s index. In Noida, all four stations recorded “very poor” air quality levels.

The commission released a statement on Monday after meeting three Aam Aadmi Party MLAs, including Atishi, the chairperson of Environment Committee of Delhi Assembly. The AAP leader also appealed to the commission to hold chief ministers of Haryana and Punjab accountable for causing pollution in the national Capital.

“The National Air Quality Commission informed the three AAP MLAs it met that it is seized of the matter and will take required steps including formulation of appropriate policies and strategies to control stubble burning, in due consultations with stakeholders concerned, on a priority basis,” the commission, set up by the Union environment ministry said.

Delhi’s air pollution typically worsens in October and November due to farmers burning stubble in neighbouring states, unfavourable wind speed and local emission of traffic fumes in the city. Firecrackers ignited for Diwali add to the problem.

Pollution in the city had almost disappeared earlier this year, when the Centre imposed a countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus but has returned since the government began lifting restrictions at the end of August.

The depleting air quality in the Capital has been a cause of concern as the city undergoes the third wave of Covid-19 cases. Health experts worry that high air pollution levels over a prolonged period have compromised the disease resistance of people living in Delhi, making them more susceptible to the coronavirus.

Delhi has 37,329 active coronavirus cases as of Tuesday, with 4,88,476 recoveries and 8,512 deaths, according to Union health ministry data.

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