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Friday, January 24, 2020

High-velocity winds abate smog in Delhi, air quality improves from ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’

"High surface winds in Delhi are predicted to continue for the next two days. The effective stubble fire count is also low," said a SAFAR official.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: November 16, 2019 7:05:42 pm
Delhi air quality remains 'severe' for fourth consecutive day Smog dissipates as strong winds bring relief. (Express File Photo: Amit Mehra)

Smog cover in Delhi-NCR was abated by strong winds on Saturday resulting in a decline in pollution levels. The air quality index of the national capital read 357 at 4 pm, around 100 notches less than Friday’s AQI.

“Strong surface winds, gusting up to 25 kilometers per hour, blew in the region, reducing the smog and bringing slight relief. Windy conditions are expected on Sunday as well and the air quality will improve further in the next two days,” news agency PTI quoted Kuldeep Srivastava of India Meteorological Department, as saying.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said strong boundary-layer and surface winds worked behind flushing out the pollutants that had accumulated in the air.

“High surface winds in Delhi are predicted to continue for the next two days. The effective stubble fire count is low. Even if it is high, transport-level wind direction is not favourable (northerly), and the speed is so high (42kmph) that plume will surpass Delhi and complete its lifespan before it touches the bottom end of the Indo-Gangetic plains (Mathura-Agra),” PTI quoted a SAFAR official as saying.

Time to shun politics, let’s work together to curb pollution: Kejriwal to Javadekar

Earlier in the day, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Saturday appealed to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to cooperate with the Delhi government to find a solution to the air pollution in the national capital region.

Replying to a tweet by Javadekar, where the Union Minister demanded an apology from Kejriwal for supporting the slogan ‘chowkidar chor hai’, the CM said it is time to stop indulging in politics and join hands to tackle pollution.

The Union Minister’s tweet came after the Supreme Court rejected pleas seeking review of the Rafale judgment and gave a clean chit to the central government. “@ArvindKejriwal who supported the slogan ‘chowkidar chor hai’ should also apologise,” he tweeted.

Responding to Javadekar, the Delhi chief minister tweeted in Hindi, “Sir, this is not the time to indulge in politics but to curb pollution together. All governments should work together to provide relief to people. The government of Delhi and its people are doing whatever they can to curb pollution. We need your support, sir.”

In the past too, Kejriwal and Javadekar had a war of words when the BJP leader had criticised the Delhi CM for “indulging in a blame game” over the issue of pollution. The latter had blamed the Haryana government for stubble burning resulting in a spike in air pollution in Delhi.

BJP protests in front of AAP office

Two days after the Supreme Court order in the Rafale jet deal, the Delhi unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Saturday protested in front of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) office in the national capital against the allegations levelled by the party. The party workers raised slogans against AAP, demanding an apology for trying to “malign the image” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The protests were led by BJP’s Delhi party chief Manoj Tiwari.

Dip in pollution levels

The national capital witnessed a fall in pollution levels on Saturday morning even as the air quality continued to remain in the “severe” category. At 8.40 am, the air quality index (AQI) stood at 412 against an AQI of 467 at 10 am on Friday. The AQI in Faridabad was 427, Ghaziabad 424, Greater Noida 377, Noida 411 and Gurgaon 420. At 4 pm, the AQI in Delhi further dipped to 357, an improvement from “severe” to “very poor” category. The suburbs of Ghaziabad (347), Greater Noida (309), Gurgaon (360), Faridabad (358) and Noida (338) also recorded a dip in pollution levels.

On Friday 4 pm, the air quality index in the city stood at 463, with Dwarka Sector 8 being the most-polluted area with an AQI of 495. Most of the air quality monitoring stations recorded an AQI above 450. An AQI between 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, 301-400 ‘very poor’ and 401-500 ‘severe’.

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However, the Supreme Court Friday called out the odd-even scheme of the Delhi government, calling it “half-baked” in its current form, criticising its decision to exempt the two-wheelers and three-wheelers from it. “A half-baked odd-even scheme… either you have a full odd-even and give no exceptions… instead you allow two- and three-wheelers which cause more pollution,” Justice Deepak Gupta told senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the Delhi government.

Gautam Gambhir skips pollution meet, faces heat

Aam Aadmi Party on Friday hit out at Gambhir for missing out on the parliamentary panel meeting on pollution, which was attended by Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh. This, after former Indian cricketer VVS Laxman shared pictures of Gambhir savouring jalebis for breakfast in Indore. In reply, Gambhir, who was in Indore for commentating on the ongoing India-Bangladesh test series, said he has “a family to support”. He added that his “commercial engagements” were being made to “mask the incompetence and political greed of their (AAP) leader.”

Final call on odd-even scheme on Monday

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Friday said that with agencies predicting a dip in pollution levels in the capital, there may not be a need to extend the odd-even scheme, which in force from between November 4 and November 15, from 8 am to 8 pm, except on Sundays. However, he added if the air quality does not improve as per forecast, the government will review the situation Monday morning and take a call on whether or not to extend the scheme.

In this road rationing scheme introduced by the Delhi government as a measure to put a check on pollution levels in the city, private cars with registration numbers ending with an odd digit are allowed to ply on odd dates of the month and those with even digits ply on even dates.

(With inputs from PTI)

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