Worse than even Delhi, which recorded an air quality index of 448, the city of Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh, recorded an AQI of 500 – the highest the scale can measure – this past Tuesday. The city’s air went from ‘very poor’ on Monday to ‘severe’ on Tuesday and remained severe for the next two days. Though cities such as Moradabad and Howrah, which recorded an AQI of 451 on Tuesday, have had consistently worsening air this week, the Centre’s focus has entirely been on mitigating the poor air quality situation in Delhi-NCR alone. Interestingly, both these cities have one monitoring station each while the Delhi-NCR region has 48 monitoring stations.
Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan on Thursday said there was no need to panic over the poor air quality in Delhi and he hoped the situation would return to normal in the “next few days.” He also said that the Centre was monitoring the situation and is considering a slew of steps to curb air pollution. “We have asked the Delhi government to sprinkle water on roads or use mechanised ways for dust removal from roads,” he said. The MoEF also announced a seven-member committee, headed by the environment secretary, to look at short-term and long-term measures to improve the capital’s air.
Analysis of the Central Pollution Control Board’s AQI bulletin archives has revealed that the air quality has clearly deteriorated across the northern-Gangetic plain. Specifically, in places such as Lucknow, Agra, Kanpur and Muzzafarpur. The extent of the smog and air pollution has also been captured by NASA’s Aqua satellite on November 7 which shows a “natural-colour image of haze and fog” blanketing the region. Further, the same sensor also shows an “aerosol optical depth” revealing “red-brown colours” that indicate skies thick with aerosol pollution (see map above).
A look at the air quality index for the period November 6 to November 9 shows that Ghaziabad and Noida showed elevated levels of air pollution on Monday, higher than Delhi which recorded an AQI of 354. Over Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, air quality was consistently poor in NCR areas such as Bhiwadi (ranged from 439 to 468), Faridabad (ranged from 409 to 482), Ghaziabad (ranged from 475 to 499), Noida (ranged from 407 to 469) and Gurgaon which touched 494 on Thursday.
Away from the NCR, Lucknow recorded an AQI of 430 on Wednesday and 468 on Thursday. Moradabad recorded an AQI of 500 on Tuesday, 439 on Wednesday and 414 on Thursday. Agra recorded an AQI of 449 on Thursday and Muzzafarpur recorded 454 on the AQI.