A grey smog cover descended on Delhi, with residents of the Capital complaining of breathing problems on Tuesday.
Experts said this was the season’s first severe smog spell, which may recur with the onset of winter.
While a section of scientists blamed the gloom on pollution triggered by Diwali crackers, Delhi Pollution Control Committee chief Sandeep Mishra took a different stand.
“Diwali pollution got cleared by Monday noon. We will hold talks with the Met department on Wednesday in order to have an idea of the weather in the coming days. We need to chalk out a strategy (to deal with the smog),” he said.
Anumita Roychowdhury, an executive director at the Centre for Science and Environment, contradicted Mishra. “In winters, the weather normally remains calm. This helps haze build-up. Wind speed also drops and the pollutants do not get blown away,” she said.
According to her, Tuesday’s weather conditions made matters worse. “This is the amount of pollution we are dealing with every day. The weather only made us realise it,” she added.
“We need to have a winter action plan ready. It’s something we have not been able to do so far. This is the first severe smog spell this winter. If the government does not wake up, we will face many more in the days to come,” Roychowdhury said.
The level of PM10 (fine particles with size of 10 micron or less) was 1,554 micrograms per cubic metre of air at 9pm at Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s Anand Vihar monitoring station. Though any measurement above zero is regarded as a health risk, the prescribed limit in Delhi is between 60 and 100.
The fine particles floating in air comprise sulphate, nitrates, ammonia, salt, carbon, dust and water.
Rainfall expected on Wednesday evening, may continue till Friday
Tuesday’s maximum temperature: 25.4 (-5)
Minimum temperature: 12.3 (-3)
Forecast for Wednesday: Partly cloudy sky and very light rain/thundershowers could occur in the evening. Mist/shallow fog is expected in the morning
Maximum and minimum temperature: 26 and 13 degrees Celsius, respectively.