The thick smog cover looming over the national capital region for the last six days has been caused by a unique wind phenomenon that blew most of the smoke emanating from various parts of northern India towards New Delhi.
Gufran Beig, project director of the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), told Hindustan Times that the city usually gets easterly winds – with occasional western disturbances – around this time. “But this year winds have been coming from the north-northwest side, where biomass burning is taking place. There was some relief on Friday when it changed a little, but then things got worse again,” he said.
Beig said Delhi’s air quality on Sunday was the worst this season, with SAFAR data showing the rolling average of PM10 at 950µg/m³, and PM2.5 at 590µg/m³. The situation, however, is expected to improve by Wednesday, he added.
The air quality index for the day hovered around 500 (classified as severe), according to SAFAR data and HT’s index. Punjabi Bagh in west Delhi, Anand Vihar in east Delhi, Mandir Marg in central Delhi, and RK Puram in south Delhi were among the most polluted areas.
The situation in Delhi – which was already reeling under post Diwali pollution – reportedly worsened due to the influx of pollutant-laden smoke from farm fires in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana over the last one week. Taking note of the situation, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a string of measures to fight the crisis.
Admitting that Delhi has virtually turned into a “gas chamber”, Kejriwal announced that all schools across the city would remain closed for three days. He also announced a five-day ban on all construction and demolition activities in the city, and hinted at adopting the odd-even road rationing rule again in the near future.
For Monday, the weatherman predicted a clear sky, with moderate to dense fog in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures are expected to be 30 degrees Celsius and 14 degrees Celsius respectively.