Air pollution on upswing in Delhi; situation to get worse in winter

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New Delhi, Nov 6 (UNI) Despite having anti-air pollution programmes in place for almost a decade, pollution levels in Delhi are increasing and are again creeping up to pre-2000 level, according to a latest air quality analysis.

And in winters, when the particulates are in concentrate form, the situation is likely to get worse and pose greater health risks for people.

''Delhi is in danger of losing the gains of its CNG programme as pollution levels are once again creeping up to pre-2000 level...

Last winter, for the first time, pollution levels increased and this year they are already almost as high as what was in the city in pre-CNG days,'' said the analysis conducted by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

''In 2002, when the CNG programme was initiated, the annual average levels of respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM, or PM10) in residential areas stood at 143 microgram per cubic metre... The monthly average levels of RSPM in the winter of 2006-07 were as high as 350 microgram per cubic metre,'' said the analysis.

This year, the daily levels of even finer particulates smaller than 2.5-micron size (PM2.5), have already reached 240 microgram per cubic metre in Delhi in end-October, an increase of only 10 microgram per cubic metre of PM2.5 is associated with significant increases in health risks, according to the study .

Addressing a news conference, CSE Director Sunita Narain sought tough and immediate measures to control growing air pollution in the capital.

''The situation is worrying us tremendously... we need to act now. The pollution levels are increasing fast and second generation reforms must be introduced to combat air pollution,'' she said.

Delhi is in danger of losing the gains of its CNG programme, Ms Narain said.

Phenomenal increase in daily registration of vehicles, heavy influx of vehicles from outside, lack of effective public transport and huge number of diesel vehicles are cited as the reason for the rise in the air pollution.

''Delhi has more than four million registered vehicles.

Currently, the city adds 963 new personal vehicles each day on its roads. This is almost double what was added in the city in pre-CNG days,'' Ms Narain pointed out.

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