If the dense smog that has Delhi in its grip for a week now does not clear by Diwali (November 13), pollution levels may reach an alarming high.
While the ‘desirable’ level of particulate matters is 100 microgram per cubic metre, it hovered last week, between 500 and 900, according to Anumita Roy Choudhury of the Centre for Science and Environment.
Here’s how it all adds up: vehicles and industries emit pollutants, the smog traps these and they remain suspended in air and the pollutants cause respiratory problems. On Diwali night, pollution levels go up because of bursting of crackers.
“In Delhi, every night is a Diwali night. Going by the current situation, the actual Diwali night can be the worst ever,” said Choudhury. A senior Delhi government official, who did not want to be named, also admitted that if the smog didn’t lift soon, it would be a cause for concern.
According to Sandeep Mishra, member secretary of Delhi pollution control committee (DPCC), some of the reasons behind the smog are plummeting temperatures, enhanced humidity levels because of the cyclonic storm Nilam and fire in fields of Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.
Mishra insists such a scenario is not unusual. “We have studied figures of pollution emission of the past three years. Between the third week of October and first week of November such situations are normal.”
“We’re hoping wind velocity, which is pretty low now, will peak, the sky will clear, sunlight will heat the earth and wind will start moving upwards. Even rains could clear up the sky,” Mishra said.
The meteorological department predictions, however, spell respite. “There are chances of the smog clearing up after two days when we expect increase in wind velocity,” said a Met department official.
But Choudhury claims that smog plays “only a small part in high pollution levels”. “Pollution levels in Delhi have been going up massively since 2006. We have lost the post-CNG advantage. All pollution-control measures have failed,” she added.