German Chancellor Angela Merkel began her forth India visit on a day when the air quality had plummeted to all time low since January. The thick smog that engulfs Delhi is simply unmissable, even when one is in the National Capital’s super-VVVIP zone – The Rashtrapati Bhavan. No wonder, when talking about Germany’s mega investment in green technologies in India, Merkel quipped about Delhi smog. At a business meeting in Delhi, where she announced 200 million-fund to reform bus sector in Tamil Nadu, Merkel said, “Whoever has looked at pollution in Delhi yesterday would find very good arguments to replacing diesel buses with electric buses.” The German Chancellor was also seen meeting electric-rickshaw operators at Dwarka Sector-21 metro station earlier in the day.
Merkel on Saturday pledged to invest 1 billion euros over the next five years on environmentally-friendly urban mobility in India. Merkel, whose visit to the country coincided with one of the worst spells of air pollution in Delhi/NCR, also emphasised on the need to replace diesel-run public transport with electric vehicles. "We have agreed to co-operate on climate protection and green urban mobility and have earmarked 1 billion euros towards this," Merkel said at an event.
A day after the Supreme Court-mandated anti-pollution authority declared public health emergency in Delhi-NCR, the air quality index registered yet another ‘severe’ Delhi day on Saturday. Major pollutants PM 2.5 at 500 and PM 10 at 500 remained in 'severe' category in Lodhi Road area, according to the Air Quality Index data.
Neighbouring Ghaziabad was no better with AQI hovered over 450-mark in localities such as Indirapuram and Vasundhara. Surprisingly, just an hour from Delhi, Murthal in Haryana had a better AQI at 145. Though it is unhealthy by CPCB standards, but it is still way better than current status of AQI in Delhi. An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'. Above 500 falls in the 'severe-plus emergency' category.
On Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the National Capital, engulfed in thick smog, had turned into a ‘gas chamber’. With cloud cover and almost zero air movement, the smog concentration is worsening by the day. The clouds have prevented the sunlight reaching the ground thereby stopping the vertical movement of air, the scientists say.