Air pollution in Delhi remains in 'very poor' category

As a relief to the people of Delhi, the air quality improved overnight due to an increase in the wind speed and a change in the wind direction.

The AQI of the national capital shifted from the ‘severe’ category to the “very poor” category, according to monitoring agencies.

The city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 339 at 9 am, improving from 405 at 4 pm on Friday. The 24-hour average AQI, recorded at 4 pm every day, stood at 419 on Thursday. It was 401 on Wednesday, 397 on Tuesday, 358 on Monday, 218 on Sunday, 220 on Saturday and 279 on Friday.

“The wind speed has increased a bit since yesterday. The AQI level was recorded at 335 at 10 am. I believe the situation will improve now. There are positive signs and we hope that things will improve more in the coming days,” said Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai.

In the neighbouring areas, Ghaziabad recorded an AQI of 274, Gurugram stands at 346, Greater Noida at 258, Noida at 285 and Faridabad at 328.

Air Quality to get better:

The vehicular emissions have been a major contributor to air pollution in Delhi. As per the findings of a joint study by Delhi government and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, the emissions will reduce from 45 per cent to nearly 38 per cent.

Apart from the emissions, power plants, refineries and vehicles are the second major contributor to air pollution in Delhi. Secondary inorganic aerosols — particles such as sulfate and nitrate that are formed in the atmosphere due to the interaction of gases and particulate pollutants from these sources accounted for nearly 19 to 36 per cent of the air pollution in the city over the last few days.

An official at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said an improvement in the wind speed from November 21 onwards might bring the air pollution levels down.

Delhi Government Initiatives:

As part of the relief measures, Delhi government has set up a six-member special task force (STF) on Thursday to ensure a strict implementation of the measures outlined in the GRAP in the capital. The task force will be headed by Delhi’s special secretary (environment) along with senior officials from the departments of transport, traffic, revenue, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and Public Works Department (PWD).

Delhi’s air quality dropped over the last few days despite the city government implementing stringent measures, including a ban on construction work and the entry of diesel-guzzling trucks into the national capital.

The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) had earlier said stringent measures, including a ban on construction work and the entry of polluting trucks into the national capital, under the final stage of the Centre’s air pollution control plan — the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) — will continue until further orders.

Relief after Diwali:

The air quality after Diwali worsened owing to the firecrackers that were burst during the festival. But, the rain that poured over the capital in the following days helped in reducing the intensity of pollution.

These effects were compounded by unfavourable meteorological conditions, primarily calm winds and low temperatures, hindering the dispersion of pollutants.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, 401 and 450 “severe” and above 450 “severe plus”.

(with agency inputs)

Harry Byrne

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