Air quality in Delhi was “very poor” on Saturday and pollution remained in the ‘very severe’ category in one area.
Weather department officials predict foul air on New Year’s day.
According to monitoring agency SAFAR, the Air Quality Index was 341, at very poor levels. Dhirpur station recorded a maximum of 500 AQI, which falls in the ‘severe’ category.
SAFAR has advised people in Delhi to avoid outdoor physical activity. People with heart or lung diseases, senior citizens, and children should remain indoors and keep activity levels low when air quality turns ‘severe’, it said.
It also recorded Saturday’s average levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 (24-hour rolling) at 197 and 304 micrograms per cubic metre respectively. PM2.5 and PM10 are ultra-fine particles that are the dominant air pollutants in Delhi. The acceptable levels of PM 2.5 and PM10 are 60 and 100 microgram per cubic metre, respectively.
Forecasts say PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels will reach 337 and 211 microgram per cubic metre on New Year’s day, Sunday.
“A marginal increase in the level of PM 2.5 has been predicted from 164 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) on December 30 to 192µg/m3 on January 1. Thereafter, a significant drop to 159µg/m3 on January 2 is expected,” a SAFAR report said earlier.
Despite high pollution levels, Delhi is yet to put in place a comprehensive response mechanism. The graded response system, proposed by the CPCB, is yet to be notified or enforced.
The proposed plan suggested that when the air quality is at the ‘severe’ level for 48 hours, the entry of trucks, barring those carrying essential commodities, be stopped from entering Delhi and the odd-even road rationing scheme kick in. The proposal says there should be a ban on waste burning, brink kilns operating in and around the city should be shut and parking rates hiked by at least four times.
The maximum and minimum temperatures were recorded at 20.3 and 8.2 degree Celsius respectively, both a notch above normal, on Saturday.
In the morning, dense fog shrouded the city bringing down visibility levels which affected train operations. As many as 69 north-bound trains were running late while 16 were rescheduled, a railways spokesperson said.
Visibility was recorded at 200 metres at 5.30am, which subsequently improved to 400 metres by 8.30am, a weather official said.
On Sunday, the weatherman has predicted a clear sky. “Moderate to dense fog is expected with isolated, very dense fog in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures would be around 20 and 08 degree Celsius respectively,” a MeT official said.