For the 13 days the Commonwealth Games was in town, Delhi’s air was the cleanest it’s been in a decade. Thanks to traffic restrictions and people opting for public transport.
But now the Games are over and pollution is back — with a vengeance. Since Thursday, the concluding day, there has been an 80 per cent rise in pollutants.
On Tuesday, particulate matter level at most locations was 270 unit grams in a cubic meter of air, compared to an average of 135 ug/m3 on October 13, the second last day of the Games. Air quality during the sporting event was the best since 2000.
That’s because 1,600 Blueline and 2,000 school buses were off the roads, there were curbs on trucks, and schools were on holiday, which meant a sharp fall in use of personal vehicles.
S.P. Gautam, chairperson of the Central Pollution Control Board, said he had expected pollution levels to rise post-Games but not at such a rate. “It is because of the sudden increase in the number of vehicles on roads,” Gautam said.
Anumita Roy Chowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment believes the cooling weather is partly responsible — pollutants take longer to disperse when it’s cold, resulting in smog — but said the Games were a “missed opportunity” to clean Delhi’s air.