A day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveils an air quality index (AQI) for 10 cities including Delhi, a forecast has predicted air quality in the capital will sharply deteriorate next week because of a dust storm due to hit the city and Mumbai on Monday. Air quality of the two cities will be "very poor" in the next few days, particularly on Tuesday and Wednesday, due to the dust storm which originated in the Gulf region last week.
According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), a body under the ministry of earth science: "This is mainly due to the remnants of a major dust storm which was experienced in the Gulf region early last week has now crossed the Arabian Sea."
A dust storm gathering in Thane. (Praful Gangurde/HT Photo)
"The storm has elevated the levels of PM (Particulate Matter) 10 and PM 2.5 in Mumbai significantly today (April 5) as per the data obtained by new SAFAR station at Colaba area. Although the direction of storm is towards Mumbai, Nasik and part of North Maharashtra, its remnants are likely to elevate level of PM 2.5 particles from moderate to poor/very poor category by Tuesday and Wednesday," according to the SAFAR forecast.
"An increase of 30-40% is likely in the level of PM 2.5 particles where as PM10 particles may go up by 20-30% being heavier and settle down faster," said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR. PM 2.5 is considered to be very dangerous as it affects lungs and enters the blood stream. The normal level of PM 2.5 should be 60.
The dust storm that originated in the Gulf region on April 1 crossed the Arabian Sea on Sunday. This has disturbed the air quality in Delhi, which was categorised as "good" by SAFAR last week.
A Dust storm at Bandra in Mumbai on Sunday. (Satish Bate/HT Photo)
"Air quality in Delhi is again going to become poor to very poor on Tuesday/Wednesday and PM 2.5 is likely to touch a value of 130-150 microgram/m3 as per the prediction made by the SAFAR model.
"The dust storm has disturbed the wind patterns. And some parcels rich in pollution are likely to drift towards northern parts of India including Delhi. But Mumbai will be the most affected," Beig added.