Air quality in Delhi NCR dipped again on Saturday, this time to the worst of the season so far. While the quality fell in the ‘poor’ category, the air quality index value was recorded as 262 on Saturday.
According to officials at the India Meteorological Department, a sharp drop in temperature and lower wind speed were among the reasons behind the deteriorating air quality. According to the official forecast by the Earth Sciences ministry’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), pollution is only going to increase in the coming two days.
While on Saturday the average Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 concentration was 120 micrograms per cubic metre (poor category), it is expected to rise to 132 micrograms per cubic metre on Sunday, taking the air quality to the ‘very poor’ category. On Monday, the PM 2.5 concentration is expected to be 144 micrograms per cubic metre.
According to officials at the Central Pollution Control Board as well as the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, crop residue burning in Punjab and Haryana is also responsible for the worsening air quality. “The live images from NASA clearly show that incidents of farm fires are increasing. It is not a coincidence that air quality started to deteriorate at the same time. The governments from both states had said they have taken strong measures to stop crop-stubble burning but it doesn’t seem like there is too much change on the ground as compared to last year,” said a senior Delhi environment department official.
The Central Pollution Control Board and civic bodies in Delhi have also come up with a roadmap to control construction dust and smoke from open burning, especially of garbage and leaves. Of the 554 fines issued by the authorities till last week, only three per cent were for open burning.