Air Quality Index 'severe' in North Indian cities

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Environment Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan today said the air quality in Delhi and NCR will improve significantly in coming days and there is no need to panic. A US embassy measure of tiny particulate matter, called PM 2.5, showed a reading of 523 at 9 a.m. on Friday - the outer limit of "good" air is 50. They said that in the short run, higher air pollution levels may result in increase in severity of symptoms of respiratory diseases.

ASSOCHAM interacted with 350 tour operators reveals worldwide tourists are quite particular about their health and safety and with such negative developments Delhi is bound to drop off from the map of global tourists who will pick "cleaner" South Asian destination.

The minister said that the short-term measures that have been taken to mitigate the problem are enforcement of a ban on diesel gen-sets, brick kilns, stone crushers, hot mix plants and prohibition of entry of trucks with non-essential supplies to Delhi.

The scheme was introduced in the Chinese capital a decade ago to fight traffic and pollution with mixed success.

An fine of Rs 50,000 will also be imposed on road construction agencies violating dust pollution norms in Delhi-NCR and if pollution aggravates, construction may be temporarily banned.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi, said sprinkling water will help, but it won't solve everything.

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"In the last two days, our Noida store has sold over 20 air purifiers".

Satyendra Kumar Jain, New Delhi's health minister, said laborers living in urban slums or beneath road fly-overs were suffering the most. Meanwhile, politics peaked over Delhi smog with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi to call a meeting of 3 Chief Ministers to discuss the issue of stubble burning by his state farmers.

Affluent residents and large private companies have been placing bulk orders for air purifiers and filtration masks.

According to a 2016 World Bank report, almost 1.4 million people died in India due to air pollution in 2013, causing an economic loss worth 7.7 percent of the nation's GDP.

Harsh Vardhan stressed that as a part of advance planning and special intervention, 40 monitoring teams of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have been deployed since September 1, 2017, to give feedback on the ground situation and air polluting activities in Delhi. In comparison, worldwide tourists are more sensitive about green tourism.

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