Strong winds helping dissipate pollutants in Delhi, but air still ‘very poor’

New Delhi: Take a long deep breath on Monday. A good wind helped clean out pollutants that were rapidly building up on and after Diwali in the national capital, improving the city’s air quality.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded an air quality of index of “very poor” with a score of 329 for the city on Sunday. The air was cleaner in neighbouring Gurgaon with a reading of 285, while Noida and Ghaziabad registered 342 and 381.

New Delhi’s air turned “severe” for the first time in 2017 by touching 403 on Friday, the day after the festival of lights.

CPCB’s air lab head Dipankar Saha said wind blowing intermittently at 12kmph created a west-east air passage and dispersed suspended particulate matter hanging over the city.

“The weakening of a depression, which formed over the Bay of Bengal, and its gradual shift towards Assam helped create this passage. This, along with strong winds, has cleaned up the city’s air considerably,” he said.

The wind speed on Friday was around 6kmph but it picked up pace on Saturday.The forecast is for a cleaner Monday.

According to the System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the 24-hour average of coarse particulate PM10 will come down to the moderate level.

It recorded PM2.5 and PM10 at 151 and 256 on Sunday, which are very poor and poor respectively. The prescribed standards are 60 and 100.

Just before Diwali, the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) implemented a series of measures such as banning diesel generator sets and temporarily shutting down the Badarpur thermal power plant as part of a graded response action plan.

The panel, which anticipated a spike in pollution during and after Diwali, warned that more steps will be implemented if the air quality degrades from very poor to severe in the coming days.

An EPCA review meeting is scheduled for Tuesday.

For its part, the top court has banned the sale of firecrackers in New Delhi this Diwali as a preemptive step to reduce pollution in the city struggling to clean up its filthy air.

Smoke from fireworks and burning of crop residue in neighbouring states, fumes from vehicle and factory exhausts, and construction dust engulf