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Not Delhi, Varanasi tops list of India's most polluted cities

13 November 2017

In the wake of slight improvement in the Delhi-NCR region's air quality, Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan today asked people not to panic and said that the Graded Response Action Plan must be implemented "earnestly and meticulously" by the concerned state governments. A USA 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. The fine particulate matter, known as an invisible killer, has a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometers, 3% the diameter of a human hair.

According to health experts, higher air pollution level may result in increase in the burden of disease from stroke, heart disease, lung cancer and both chronic and acute respiratory disease, including asthma.

Commercial trucks are now banned from the city unless they are transporting essential commodities and the Delhi transport department said it re-introduced an "odd-even" scheme under which cars with license plates ending in an odd number are allowed one day and even-numbered cars the next day. Earlier, the Union Environment Ministry on Thursday formed a seven-member committee to work out short and long-term measures to fight air pollution.

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"We direct that there should be sprinkling of water wherever the PM 10 is found in excess of 600". He said, in the last two days the air quality index has shown improvement, which was hovering in the severe zone.

Satyendra Kumar Jain, New Delhi's health minister, said laborers living in urban slums or beneath road fly-overs were suffering the most.

"All hospitals have been directed to take all measures to deal with the patient load due to air pollution".

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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, global tourists are more sensitive about green tourism", said the industry body.

Pronab Sarkar, president of the Indian Association of Tour Operators, said air pollution had also hit tourism.

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Not Delhi, Varanasi tops list of India's most polluted cities