THREE DAYS after Diwali, the capital’s air quality continued to be in the “severe” category despite experts predicting that it would improve to “very poor” by Wednesday.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), levels of Particulate Matter (PM) 10 levels breached the 500 mark in Delhi. With no wind to disperse pollutants, pollution remained trapped close to the ground.
According to officials, air quality is expected to remain ‘severe’, though below the 500 mark, on Thursday. The levels on Friday are expected to see a slight improvement, with PM 10 levels expected to drop closer to 400.
Anumita Roychowdhury from the Centre for Science and Environment attributed this to adverse weather conditions. “With no wind and calm weather, pollutants remain close to the ground. Pollution levels always increase with winter setting in. This, combined with the Diwali pollution hangover, increased vehicular traffic and burning of trash, leads to a rapid build up of pollutants causing the air quality to drop further,” she said.
Air quality at all of SAFAR’s centres remained “severe” and is expected to remain so on Thursday.
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The National Air Quality Index also reported air quality in Delhi at “severe”, with PM 2.5 being the prominent pollutant.
Meanwhile, in Gurgaon a thick haze engulfed the city all through Wednesday, with officials confirming it was smog as opposed to the misconception that it could be fog.
“The concentration of PM 2.5 in the air has increased steadily over the last three days. Its prescribed standard is a reading of 60, but in the last 24 hours, between 6 pm on Tuesday and 6 pm on Wednesday, the average reading has been 445.86. In the 24 hours prior to that, the reading was 322.55,” said an official of the Haryana Pollution Control Board. “This gives a sense of the seriousness of the situation,” he added.
Govt cancels pollution meet following Sisodia’s detention
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Wednesday had to cancel a Cabinet meeting, which was scheduled to deliberate on measures to control air pollution, following the detention of Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia. The minister was detained by police while he was on his way to meet the family of an ex-serviceman who committed suicide over the issue of One Rank One Pension (OROP).
“We are having to postpone the Cabinet meeting. Why? Because the Centre has resorted to hooliganism,” said Kejriwal.