Delhi bans trucks as mega-city chokes

PageTurnerExcerpt       How we breathe the cleanest air in one of Delhi’s most polluted office areas
       
       	        Kamal Meattle and Barun Aggarwal         7 Novem

With levels of air pollution classed as "hazardous", the restriction on the almost 40,000 medium and heavy lorries that enter Delhi every day was imposed late Thursday.

India's Supreme Court last month ruled that only firecrackers that emit less smoke and soot could be sold in the city, in an effort to limit pollution over the festival period.

Heavy and medium goods vehicles will be banned from Delhi roads for three days starting 11 pm tonight, the Delhi government said on Thursday after air quality in the national capital deteriorated sharply post-Diwali. In the next 24 hours, including Diwali night, the AQI crept up to 354. However, reports have claimed that Delhi is not the most polluted city in the country.

The overall air quality index or AQI was 10 times the safe limit - AQI above 500 falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category, according to the government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research. The quality of air in Pitampura, Airport, Terminal 3 and Delhi University stood at 679, 481 and 801 respectively.

Two federal government pollution indices showed air at "very poor" and "severe" levels, indicating that prolonged exposure could lead to respiratory illnesses.

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In gross violation of the Supreme Court order, people in several areas of Delhi burst firecrackers until at least midnight, two hours after the 10 pm deadline.

"This scenario is likely to hold the locally generated crackers emissions within the NCT, slowing down the dispersion, resulting in increased levels of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution", it added. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to the advisory issued by SAFAR.

While other cities across north India recorded AQI scores of between 300 and 350, the air was significantly better in central and southern cities - with with the air in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, deemed "satisfactory" with a AQI score of only 64.

The areas where the violations were recorded included Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens' Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka and Noida Sector 78.

Twitter users took to the microblogging site posting pictures of people burning crackers wearing masks and slammed the "mass contempt" of Supreme Court's order.

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