The dust haze over Tricity worsened on Friday morning, with levels of PM 10 (particulate matter) increasing to double that of Thursday. While 26 flights operating from Chandigarh International Airport were cancelled for the second consecutive day due to poor visibility, the haze seemed to have no perceptible effect on road traffic in Chandigarh as the city’s residents soldiered on with their daily activities.
The average Air Quality Index recorded at the Kaimbwala monitoring station for 24 hours was 858 micrograms per cubic meter, the highest for three stations recorded on Friday. It was 575 micrograms per cubic meter at PEC on Thursday. The AQI levels at the other two monitoring stations, Sector 17 and IMTECH, were 694 micrograms per cubic meter and 575 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively.
Kaimbwala recorded 1080 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 10 and 213 micrograms per cubic meter of PM 2.5 between 2 am and 10 am on Friday. PM 10 at PEC was 575 and PM 2.5 was 119 on Thursday. Officials of the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC) said the levels of PM 10 had started climbing down on Thursday evening but spiked again at 6 am on Friday.
“On Thursday from 10 pm onwards, the visibility had improved and the PM 10 level recorded at Kaimbwala station was 245 micrograms per cubic meter but between 2 am and 10 am on Friday, we were surprised to see that the PM 10 level shot up to 1080 micrograms per cubic meter,” said a senior CPCC official. While the PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels recorded at the Sector 17 monitoring station was 665 and 139 micrograms per cubic meter, at IMTECH monitoring station, the levels of PM 10 and PM 2.5 were 570 and 120 micrograms per cubic meter, respectively.
Due to poor visibility, 26 flights, including the Heli-taxi service between Chandigarh and Shimla, were cancelled from Chandigarh airport. “Only the SG 2834 Delhi-Chandigarh-Delhi flight departed on time while the Kullu-Chandigarh-Kullu flight departed but with a delay of 32 minutes,” the airport authorities said.
Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHIAL) Spokesperson Deepesh Joshi said the Air India Bangkok flight 336/337 landed at Chandigarh but departed via Delhi at 3 pm. “The Indigo Dubai flight operated from Delhi and passengers were provided transportation from Chandigarh to Delhi by the airline,” he said, adding that “hopefully the situation is likely to improve from Saturday”.
All the other 26 domestic flights stood cancelled leaving passengers harassed. According to details, all the seven flights of Indigo Airlines, eight flights of Jet Airways, one each of Vistara, Air Asia and Spice Jet, three of Go Air and five domestic flights of Air India were cancelled. Due to prevailing bad weather and poor visibility conditions for Chandigarh, Air India Express has decided to operate its flight IX187/188 on Saturday from Delhi instead of Chandigarh.
Officials advised that residents should avoid any outdoor exposure and must ensure wearing of a mask if at all it was important to go out. Various parks wore a deserted look as residents chose to stay indoors. Vijay Narula, a resident of Sector 40 who is a regular morning walker at Fragrance Garden, chose to miss his morning walk on Friday. “We are a group of 20 people and only two went for walk while all the others didn’t. It gets difficult to breathe in such weather,” he said. Another walker at Fragrance Garden, Upinder Walia, who would never miss his walk even on rainy days, preferred to stay home.
However, sports activities and yoga events in the run-up to the June 21 Yoga Day event at different locations in the city continued to function. Only rain, which is expected on Saturday, can clear the haze, said officials of the Chandigarh Meteorological department. The maximum temperature on Friday remained 35.5 degrees Celsius while the minimum temperature was 31 degrees Celsius. “Light rain is expected on Saturday which may be accompanied by thunderstorm,” said the official.