India's failure to implement emission control standards for coal-fired power plants is leading to sever air pollution levels, a researcher said on Monday.
Close to 40 per cent of winter-time pollution has been attributed to crop fires, coal-fired power plants and industries spread across the National Capital Region (NCR).
"The national capital has 13 coal-fired power plants in 300-km radius operating with no emission controls to regulate sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide which contribute to a surge in particulate matter levels," environmental researcher Aishwarya Sudhir told IANS.
The air quality in Delhi-NCR was back to "severe-plus" or "emergency" category towards Monday evening and the monitoring agencies forecast a further rise in toxicity.
The levels of PM2.5 and PM10 continued to rise even as both central and Delhi governments claimed partial relief earlier in the day.
A research by the University of Maryland and NASA last week blames severe haze as a major public health concern in China and India.
It says both countries rely heavily on coal for energy, and sulfur dioxide emitted from coal-fired power plants and industry is a major pollutant contributing to their air quality problems.
According to researcher Sudhir, India's air pollution crisis is a regional problem, similar to that of China, but India has no regional-level action plans in place to address the issue.
Blaming failure of Delhi's Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which is designed to control air pollution, she said the capital had failed to make any difference to the severe pollution levels being witnessed by the citizens.
"Since it's notification on January 12, the action plan should have ensured that 95 poor air quality alerts, 55 very poor alerts and six emergency alerts were issued in Delhi.
"However, it is important to note that each of the categories under the GRAP require cross-boundary action with state governments across the region having their pollution control plans in place. This is not the case as of now," she said in a statement.
The researcher advocated the need for the GRAP cross-boundary coordination with agencies across the NCR states.
Interestingly, the NCR states do not have any action plans of their own to mitigate pollution at their sources.
Drawing a comparison between India and China, she said: "India, unlike China, does not have regional actions plans in place with time-bound targets."