Gas chamber: Delhi has only nine ‘good-quality air’ days so far this year

The Centre-run Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) becomes active from September 15 when conditions build up for severe pollution in the region.

Published: 08th November 2022 09:38 PM  |   Last Updated: 09th November 2022 08:27 AM   |  A+A-

Delhi air quality

Image used for representational purpose only. (Photo | Shekhar Yadav)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: You perhaps knew it, but didn’t check how correct you were: officially, Delhi has had only nine days to breathe “good-quality air” this year. That also means pollution is not an annual affair. It is a perennial tragedy of sorts.

Let’s first get those nine days we’d like to cherish in our memory: July 29, September 14, September 22, September 23, September 24, October 7, October 8, October 9, and October 10. That is the time when stubble burning does not happen. Technically, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was less than 50.

Compare it with the average AQI of the worst days, October-end till mid-November: around 350!
All this data is enough to tell us that Delhi is a veritable gas chamber most of the year. The consequences are scary.

“Our environment has been traumatized severely due to urbanization and industrialization leading to increased pollution which is a major cause of disease burden in the country,” says Dr Subhash Giri, Director, GTB Hospital.

The Centre-run Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), authorized to recommend mitigating measures in Delhi NCR, becomes active from September 15 when conditions build up for severe pollution in the region.

Dr Soumyadep Bhoumik, a researcher at George Institute of Global Health, said pollution mitigating policies should not be based on visible dirty air, but on the AQI which indicates pollution levels throughout the year. “Bad air is killing people every day. It’s a complex problem to solve which would require a multi-prong approach, including innovation and technology. We should not put our efforts to clean the air only when it is seen or feel dirty,” he said.

Experts say that air quality has a direct impact on the health of the people. The hazardous level of pollution is associated with increased death and severity of the comorbid conditions, especially among vulnerable groups, including the elderly and children.

According to a study published in The Lancet Planetary Health journal, conducted by researchers from AIIMS, ICMR, and IIT-Delhi, air pollution caused more than 16.7 lakh deaths in India in 2019.



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