The air quality in Delhi deteriorated to 'poor' on Thursday (October 21), after a brief spell of rains and clear skies. The Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 202 in the ITO area of Delhi and is expected to rise in the coming days.
The reason for this dip in air quality is the beginning of stubble burning, which has now become an annual phenomenon and causes severe air pollution in the capital.
According to a report by the Indian Express, The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) under the Union Ministry of Earth Science and the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, said in an update on Saturday that the impact of stubble burning on Delhi’s air quality was ‘high.’
The contribution of stubble burning to PM2.5 levels in Delhi has grown to 14%, the highest so far for this season. This figure had remained below 5% so far, SAFAR data indicates.
Another report from the DNA read the air analysis done by SAFAR - “Fire emission from upwind regions enhances PM2.5 concentration as winds at transport level are from the northwest region. Stubble-burning share is likely to increase in the next two days if there is no rain. The overall AQI is likely to further degrade to the higher end of poor AQI for the next three days.”
Latest numbers are already very poor
According to the latest figures in the Air Quality Index Metre, taken on Friday (October 22), the air quality in Punjabi Bagh was at 256 and deemed very unhealthy, 374 at Anand Vihar and deemed hazardous and 454 in Dwarka, also hazardous.
With the onset of winters and festive season upon us, things are only going to get worse.
Weather officials are concerned about the air quality deteriorating further, even though the Delhi government has recently put a ban on the sale of firecrackers in the capital.
“From today, the air quality will start deteriorating again. Temperatures are also expected to start falling this week,” said a senior IMD official.
Recently, the government of Delhi also announced a 10-point winter action plan to curb air pollution. Announcing the plan for pollution, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said that Delhi’s biggest problem in the coming weeks will be pollution from paddy stubble burning in neighbouring states such as Punjab and Haryana.
With an action plan that focuses on dust control, using the Pusa bio-decomposer, installing smog towers and checking waste burning and vehicular emissions - the Delhi government is gearing to combat the peak in pollution.
CM Arvind Kejriwal has also urged the neighbouring states to retrofit thermal power plants in NCR areas with new technology and ensure the use of CNG-operated vehicles and cleaner fuel in industries in the region.
"We have imposed a complete ban on the sale and purchase of firecrackers. The smog tower (at Connaught Place) has yielded good results so far. We will continue to monitor its performance and then take a call on constructing more such towers in Delhi," the CM said.
Special teams have been formed to monitor pollution hotspots, with 500 teams constituted to check Pollution Under Control certificates, he said.
Kejriwal said strengthening of green war rooms and a public campaign will also be part of the "winter action plan.”
The winter season is expected to offset the air quality index to hazardous levels in the coming weeks.