Diwali is still round the corner but the air pollution levels in the national capital have already started showing an upward trend.
On Monday, Delhiites woke up to a hazy morning with fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) levels almost reaching the 300-mark at many stations.
Environmentalists have also forecasted that poor air quality over the next three days. According to SAFAR’s forecast, pollution levels due to PM 2.5 in Delhi are likely to touch 300 micrograms per cubic meter on Tuesday. This level is considered ‘unhealthy’, and makes breathing, especially for people with respiratory problems, difficult.
A major reason behind the deteriorating air quality is also an increase in the number of traffic jams and low wind speed, which settles pollution particles on the surface instead of blowing it away.
Delhi“The pollution levels have started dipping and this is a regular trend during winters. A comprehensive pre-Diwali forecast will be released in a few days which will give clarity on the how good or bad the coming days will be,” said a System of Air quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) official.
The Diwali rush on the roads has contributed heavily to the pollution levels. With more crowd, especially around market places, vehicles move at a low speed which increases emissions.
“Only a comprehensive plan can tackle pollution levels in the city, which goes up especially during winters. A well-connected public transport system and heavy penalty for waste and stubble burning is a start. The key is to encourage people participation and make government agencies accountable,” said Sunita Narain, director general, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Monday morning was particularly bad, as fine pollutants touched the ‘very poor’ level in the SAFAR air quality monitoring system.
In Anand Vihar observatory, the level of PM 2.5 in the air was 214 micrograms per cubic meter. In RK Puram and Punjabi Bagh too, the levels stood at 223 and 193 micrograms per cubic meter respectively, in the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) system.
The permissible level of PM 2.5 is 60 micrograms per cubic meter.
As against the permissible levels of 100 micrograms per cubic meter, he levels of PM 10, particulate matter with diameter less than 10 micrometers, also hovered between 250 and 350 micrograms per cubic meters in stations across Delhi.