Air quality breached severe levels Wednesday, as Delhi woke up to a dusty morning for a second day in a row.
The dust storm, which started on Tuesday, intensified on Wednesday. The city’s air quality index was in the severe category at 445, a day after logging in a poor 296.
The storm, which originated in Rajasthan, has extended all the way till western Uttar Pradesh. The cities that fall in the way, such as Jodhpur, Bhiwadi, Gurgaon, Bulandshahr, Greater Noida, also saw pollution breaching severe levels. Slight respite is expected only on Friday when the westerly wind speed is supposed to drop off, said an official from the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
“Dust related visibility conditions over northwest India further worsened and occupied more areas on Wednesday. It covered areas across Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, plains of Uttarakhand and western UP. Visibility at the airport deteriorated. While the visibility was in the range of 1,500m to 2,000m on Tuesday, it further dipped to 800m to 1400m. Flight operations to smaller airports, where higher visibility is crucial, were affected,” said head of the Met office at IGI Airport, RK Jenamani.
According to SAFAR, a central government agency, air quality will continue to be in the severe range for the next two days. On Friday, the air quality will remain severe, but the concentration of pollutants will be high. At around 11 pm on Wednesday, the PM 10 concentration at Delhi was 981 micrograms per cubic metre. It is expected to drop slightly to 932 micrograms per cubic metre on Thursday and to 490 micrograms per cubic metre on Friday.
For 10 days before the storm hit, Delhi’s air quality was in the moderate range. While the usual primary pollutant in Delhi is PM 2.5, PM 10 being the primary pollutant at this time clearly indicates the presence of dust in the air.
Jenamani said that the situation will improve by June 15 evening as dry hot winds, which are blowing at the speed of 40-50km per hour from western India will weaken to 10 to 20 km per hour by Friday. “There are also chances of rain in Delhi on Sunday,” he said.
Meanwhile, Union Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari, said on Wednesday that Delhi does not need the road rationing measure — Odd-Even — because air pollution has decreased by 27%.
“Pollution in Delhi has decreased by 27 per cent. I am not saying that, people have written that. Now, Delhi does not need Odd-Even,” Gadkari said.