A little breather for Delhiites, but may not last long

New Delhi: Air quality in the national capital showed slight improvement on Thursday, a day after it plunged to ‘hazardous’ category.

According to the government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi improved from 442 on Wednesday to 370 on Thursday.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 severe or hazardous.

SAFAR further predicted that for the next couple of days, the national capital and nearby areas will continue to reel under high levels of air pollution.

“The coming days could see a sharp deterioration in air quality in Delhi-National Capital Region (NCR). This is because there is a western disturbance system in northern India which is bringing moisture, and a cyclonic system on the eastern side, which is suppressing winds.

Besides this, there is increased burning of paddy straw in Punjab and Haryana. All this, combined with Delhi-NCR’s own pollution sources, could lead to a spike in pollution in the coming days”, SAFAR stated.

At Lodhi road, major pollutant PM 10 (particulate matter) was detected at 245 (poor category), while in Pusa road area, air quality dropped to the ‘poor category’ to settle at 256. Chandni Chowk area was the worst hit with air quality plunging to ‘severe or hazardous category’ with an AQI of 402, according to SAFAR.

Overcast skies prevailed in Delhi with the maximum and minimum temperatures hovering at 31-degree Celsius and 18-degree Celsius, respectively. The humidity will be around 76 per cent for today.

Speaking to ANI, Amit Chawla, a resident of Delhi said that he is suffering from breathlessness from the past few weeks as the toxicity in the air has increased. “I am a regular runner. From the past few days, I am facing immense trouble in breathing while running. Not only that, I sometimes feel irritation in the eyes due to dust in the atmosphere.”

Another resident, Vivek, said that air pollution is harming his health. “Earlier I could see India Gate from Rashtrapati Bhavan but now it’s very hazy. Every day I am facing a problem because of air pollution,” he said.

Expressing concern over the deteriorating air quality in the national capital, Delhi’s Environment Minister Imran Hussain said that the Arvind Kejriwal-led government is taking stringent actions against the defaulters causing air pollution.

“We are taking action on burning of any industrial waste or garbage. Violators are being fined. Arvind Kejriwal is keeping an eye on the situation. We have directed authorities to close down regions’ thermal power plant,” Hussain had told ANI.

Talking about future plans to combat the menace of pollution, the Delhi Minister added that they have directed authorities to sprinkle water in the areas having a high percentage of toxic air. “Stubble burning is the major cause of pollution, because of which the environment of Delhi and whole region deteriorates each year. Delhi’s own pollution is 30-40 per cent but the stubble burning contributes 50-60 per cent,” he added.

Taking stock of the prevailing situation, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in collaboration with Delhi government and the four major NCR cities-Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad and Gurugram, have also decided to observe “Clean Air Week” from November 1 to November 5.

Meanwhile, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority for the National Capital Region (EPCA) has urged people to participate in combating the pollution crisis. In its note, EPCA has advised people to reduce the use of private vehicles. “Use public transport or other means. As per the latest report of the Union government, vehicles contribute to some 40 per cent of the pollution in Delhi city,” it stated.

“Ensure that we do not burn garbage and we report all instances of garbage burning and other pollution carefully and responsibly on the CPCB Facebook/Twitter accounts. It is essential that we control local sources of pollution at this time so that the crisis is managed,” EPCA added.