On Monday, air quality in Delhi inched towards the very poor-severe range — with air quality index recorded at 390 µg/m3 (out of a maximum of 500). According to a forecast by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the situation is expected to get worse on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT), meanwhile, pulled up the Delhi government for not filing a comprehensive action plan detailing ways to deal with the condition. It also asked authorities why they held the India-Sri Lanka cricket match despite the bad air quality.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the AAP government to file the action plan within the next 48 hours even as the government sought more time, stating that both the chief secretary and the environment secretary had recently changed.
Further, the NGT was irked by authorities for conducting the third Test between Sri Lanka and India on Sunday, which was disrupted due to smog. “Every newspaper has been carrying headlines that the air pollution was going to be higher this week. Still you took no action. Even the players were playing the match wearing masks. You should have not held the match if the air quality was so bad. Are people of Delhi supposed to bear this?” the bench asked.
The AAP government was also pulled up for not introducing the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme at this point, when the air quality is at alarming levels. “You want exemptions for two-wheelers but you do not apply your mind that these 60 lakh vehicles cause the maximum pollution,” it said. It also said that despite stating before the Tribunal that 4,000 buses would be introduced to decongest the city roads, the city government has not added a single bus even after three years.
On Monday, air quality index in Ghaziabad was recorded at 467 µg/m3, while it was 415 µg/m3 in Noida — both in the severe range. Ghaziabad, in fact, has been severely polluted for a week now. The concentration of PM 2.5 at 7 pm on Monday was 218 µg/m3. According to the forecast, the PM 2.5 concentration on Tuesday would be at 227 µg/m3, and is expected to be 236 µg/m3 on Wednesday. The prescribed standard for PM 2.5 is 60 µg/m3.
According to data shared by officials at the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), wind speed has dropped below 2 metres per second since November 28. It was only 1 metre per second on Monday. According to officials at India Meteorological Department (IMD), the city could see light rain on Wednesday. However, this might not improve Delhi’s air quality as light rain is ineffective in washing away pollutants. A chill, however, is expected to set in following the drizzle.