11/11/2017 10:57 AM IST | Updated 11/11/2017 10:57 AM IST

Decision On Odd-Even Today Even As Environment Minister Says Attributing Deaths To Pollution 'May Be Too Much'

Pollution levels in Delhi remain "severe".

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A battery-run tricycle rickshaw operator wearing mask waits for commuters amid heavy smog in the old quarters of New Delhi on November 10, 2017.

As large swathes of Delhi still remained under a blanket sickly yellow smog, the National Green Tribunal is set to decide on Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's ambitious odd-even scheme for vehicular control today, even as Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan told a news channel that "attributing any death to a cause like pollution may be too much".

"Ultimately these studies have to be India centric. To attribute any death to a cause like pollution, that may be too much," the minister told NDTV in an interview.

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This photo taken on November 9, 2017 shows an Indian newspaper seller wearing a protection mask as he works amid heavy smog on a street in New Delhi.

Yesterday, the NGT rapped the Delhi government for rolling out a scheme when reports by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had found that the levels of PM10 and PM2.5 were cumulatively higher when the scheme was implemented twice earlier.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed the government to submit the comparative ratio of the emission caused by diesel and petrol vehicles and asked it to clearly enumerate the contribution of small petrol cars in pollution. It also questioned the justification of exempting two- wheelers and women drivers during the odd-even scheme despite knowing that two-wheelers caused 46 per cent pollution, as per an IIT Kanpur report.

The hearing will continue today.

The bench said: "Odd-Even formula can't be imposed like this. Nothing has been done from your (Delhi govt) end since the past one year."

Mint reported that the government planned to use fire trucks to spray water over parts of the city with high concentrations of toxic dust.

Hindustan Times via Getty Images
NEW DELHI, INDIA - NOVEMBER 9: Dense fog/Smog in morning resulted in very less visibility at Karol Bagh on November 9, 2017 in New Delhi, India. Air pollution levels in the national capital continued to be severe as dense smog engulfed the city, leading to delays in flight and train services. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/Hindustan Times)

Air Quality 'Severe'

Meanwhile, the major pollutants across all the monitoring stations in the region had crossed the 'severe' level by Wednesday evening, IANS reported. The data collected from the central government's 'System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR)' showed the PM 2.5 and PM10 (particles with diameter less than 2.5 and 10mm) were beyond 'severe', which is more than 500 units.

While the data varied at stations in the morning and noon with highest PM2.5 recorded over 900 units at R.K Puram in south Delhi and 726 units in central Delhi, after 5 p.m. the effluents were recorded as beyond "severe" at all the stations.

The safe limit for PM2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic meter according to the national standards, and 25 micrograms per cubic meter as per the international standards.

The regions sharing common 'beyond severe' range for PM2.5 and 10 includes all the ten monitoring stations of SAFAR -- Dhirpur, Pitampura and Delhi University (North Campus) in north Delhi; Pusa and Lodhi Road in Central Delhi; Ayanagar and Mathura Road in South Delhi, Indira Gandhi International Airport; Noida in Uttar Pradesh and Gurugram in Haryana.

AFP/Getty Images
This photo taken on November 9, 2017 shows an Indian policeman wearing a protection mask as he works near India Gate amid heavy smog in New Delhi. India's capital has reeled under dense smog that has disrupted air and railway services and forced residents to stay indoors or wear protection when they venture outside. The city's poor, by contrast, are often unable to buy suitable protection and unaware of the health dangers of the toxic air. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINIQUE FAGET / To go with the photo package INDIA-POLLUTION-HEALTH (Photo credit should read DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images)

Pawan Hans Air Sprinkling

IANS reported that the Delhi government was in talks with state-owned helicopter service company Pawan Hans to aerially sprinkle water over the city to settle pollutants.

The helicopter service company, in a letter, asked the Delhi administration for a meeting to discuss the matter regarding the possibility of carrying out the exercise which "shall require a comprehensive feasibility study and approvals from various authorities".

Pawan Hans, an enterprise under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, said it "has the capacity to carry out such assignment and has carried out similar exercises in the past for washing of insulators of high tension lines and agriculture spraying."

(With inputs from agencies)