Three days before Diwali, pollution levels in Delhi reached scary levels on Thursday with the Air Quality Index (AQI) showing the condition as “severe” at many places.
Data from the Hindustan Times air quality map showed the AQI touching the maximum limit of 500 at Anand Vihar, Mandir Marg and RK Puram. Even the green neighbourhood of Shanti Path had “severe” pollution level with AQI recorded at 450.
While PM 10 reached as much as 902 micrograms per cubic metre at Anand Vihar in the morning, PM 2.5 touched 414 micrograms per cubic metre. Similarly, at RK Puram, PM 10 reached 615 micrograms per cubic metre while PM 2.5 clocked 323 micrograms per cubic metre on Thursday morning.
Pollution level is classified as severe if the AQI ranges from 401 to 500. Such a situation calls for desperate measures like shutting down schools and offices in countries such as China.
The permissible level of PM 10 is 100 micrograms per cubic metre. It is 60 micrograms per cubic metre for PM2.5.
According to the data collated by the monitoring stations of System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), AQI in the city crossed the 300 mark on Thursday and remained at “very poor” like Wednesday. At Pusa, the AQI was 333, at Mathura Road 300, Delhi University 303, Airport (T3) 306 while at Pitampura it was 319.
Dip in air quality has been primarily caused by an increase in vehicular traffic in the festival season, decreasing temperatures and lack of winds. Low wind speed settles pollution particles on the surface instead of blowing them away.
The situation will worsen in next few days as more vehicles are expected to be on road for Diwali, the festival of light in which pollution levels jump by almost five times as revelers burst millions of firecrackers.