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Sunday, Nov 17, 2019

Delhi breathes cleaner, air quality in ‘moderate’ zone

Scientists said that a squall late on Friday evening helped the city clear its air from pollutants, but warned that the AQI is likely to slip back to the ‘poor’ category by Sunday.

delhi Updated: Oct 20, 2019 00:22 IST
Soumya Pillai
Soumya Pillai
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
After a nearly a week-long spell of bad air, Delhi breathed relatively clean on Saturday with the air quality index (AQI) settling in the ‘moderate’ category.
After a nearly a week-long spell of bad air, Delhi breathed relatively clean on Saturday with the air quality index (AQI) settling in the ‘moderate’ category. (AP Photo)
         

After a nearly a week-long spell of bad air, Delhi breathed relatively clean on Saturday with the air quality index (AQI) settling in the ‘moderate’ category. Scientists said that a squall late on Friday evening helped the city clear its air from pollutants, but warned that the AQI is likely to slip back to the ‘poor’ category by Sunday.

Weather experts added that the Capital is likely to experience a relatively clean Diwali this year as a thunderstorm has been forecast two days before the festival of lights, which is expected to clean the air.

On Saturday, the overall AQI of the city dropped down to 161 in the ‘moderate’ zone as against the 248 recorded on Friday and 284 on Thursday, the final two being in the ‘poor’ category. The AQI had been in the poor zone in the Capital since the first week of October.

After breathing relatively cleaner air since July, Delhi’s air quality dipped to the worst this season as it entered the ‘very poor’ category on October 16, with the AQI touching 304.

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.

Scientists at the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that the main reason behind the reduction of pollution levels on Saturday was the squall that hit the city on Friday. A strong gust of wind hit the national capital on Friday evening with a speed of 15kmph, along with light rain in some areas which helped blow away the pollutants, the IMD scientists said. The situation, however, is likely to deteriorate from Sunday.

“Today (Saturday) the air quality was in the moderate category but it will go back to the ‘poor’ category for a few days starting Sunday because of the westerly winds,” said VK Soni, senior scientist at IMD. Westerly winds generally spell bad news for Delhi’s residents as they carry pollutants caused by the increasing number of stubble burning incidents from the neighbouring states into the Capital.

“One of the major reasons behind the increase in pollution levels is the stubble burning that happens in the neighbouring states of Delhi...the only option available with the people of Delhi are emergency measures to severely cut down on any sources of pollution emanating from Delhi, as well as to find mechanisms by which people can cope with the rising polluting levels,” the Delhi government said in statement on Saturday.

Meanwhile, the government agencies are also stepping up action against violators of the pollution norms. In a meeting chaired by Delhi chief secretary on Friday, it was suggested that to ensure strict action against polluters government officials must be personally taken to task. It was suggested in the meeting that if there is any delay in the collection of the fine amounts then the sum be recovered from the enforcing officer.

The Delhi Cabinet on Saturday also cleared ₹36 crore under a proposal to carry out a mass awareness campaign to promote pollution control measures across the city.

On Friday, the municipal agencies issued over 108 fines for garbage and biomass burning, dust pollution from construction activities, polluting industries. Nearly ₹15 lakhs have been slapped as fines.