In a slight relief, the air quality in the national capital on Friday entered the “poor” category a day after it dropped to the “severe category”. The Air Quality Index [AQI] was recorded at 381 at 8 am, according to data shared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
On Thursday, stubble burning, local emissions and unfavourable weather conditions pushed Delhi’s overall air quality index into the severe category (AQI more than 400) for a few hours — the first time it has entered this range this season.
The 24-hour average AQI settled at 395 in the very poor category, five points below the severe range, as per data from the CPCB.
A Delhi government official said, “Poor weather conditions, mainly low wind speed near the surface, started Wednesday afternoon and improved by noon Thursday. We were experiencing very low surface-level wind speed, but at the same time, wind speed in the upper levels was enough to bring pollutants from stubble burning states. Since wind speed near the surface was low, pollutants were not getting dispersed.”
At 36%, pollutants emitted from stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and UP had the highest share in Delhi’s air Thursday ever since the count began October 8 onwards, as per the Centre’s System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, the central government notified an Ordinance to constitute a Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region (NCR) and Adjoining Areas.
The Commission, which will monitor and check air pollution levels in the region, will supersede all existing bodies, including the CPCB, as well as state governments in matters of air pollution mitigation.
Through the Ordinance, the Centre has dissolved the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) for the NCR. Officials of the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change said that the new Commission would have more powers than the EPCA – in terms of penal provisions as well as in its constitution and scope.
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