Delhi’s air quality took a turn for the worse Tuesday as the particulate matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) levels shot up during the hot and humid day.
The National Air Quality Index showed that the air quality was poor at R K Puram and Mandir Marg, very poor at Punjabi Bagh, and severe at Anand Vihar for most of the day.
Light rain in the afternoon brought a slight dip in pollutant levels, but Tuesday’s air quality was the worst in the past month for all four stations.
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Incidentally, the R K Puram, Punjabi Bagh and Anand Vihar stations have not seen a single “good” air quality day in the past month and only a handful of satisfactory days. According to System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology forecast, air quality is expected to improve marginally on Wednesday and Thursday, but will remain in the poor range.
“Monsoon has ended in the region and as we move towards winters, the air quality will only get worse. Tuesday’s poor air quality is just an indicator,” said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR.
Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain has written to the Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan governments to control agricultural fires. Hussain also wrote to the Union environment ministry, asking for assistance in banning agricultural fires in neighbouring states.
“The detailed analysis of ambient air data shows that particulate matter like PM 2.5 and PM 10, gaseous pollutants like NO2, CO and secondary pollutants like NH3 have tended to increase in October and November, months that coincide with agricultural burning in neighbouring states … May I, therefore, request you to kindly issue necessary instructions for preventing burning of agricultural residue,” the letter to the states says. According to the IIT Kanpur study on the sources of air pollution in Delhi, burning agricultural waste is a big contributor to air pollution in the city, especially in winter.
In Delhi, air quality is best during the monsoon as a combination of rain and high temperatures do not encourage the accumulation of pollutants. Winter is the worst time as the influx of pollutants as well as conditions like low temperature and high humidity are favourable for high concentration of pollutants.