Air quality poor, may deteriorate further
Delhi’s air quality entered the ‘poor’ zone on the Central Pollution Control Board’s air quality index on Wednesday -- the first time since June 28, according to the data maintained as per CPCB’s daily AQI bulletin.
When air is in the poor zone (AQI value between 201-300) most people can experience breathing discomfort on prolonged exposure, according to the central pollution watchdog.
As per the CPCB bulletin, Delhi’s average air quality index (AQI) was 215 on Wednesday with PM2.5 and PM10 being the prominent pollutants. If inhaled, the fine particulate matter can settle in the breathing tract and lungs and studies have shown that it is associated with increased cardiovascular disease.
As the air quality in the Capital plunged, the CPCB wrote to Delhi chief secretary, stating that complaints of waste burning and dumping of construction and demolition waste are not being addressed expeditiously. “As many as 1,228 (40%) of the 3,041 complaints regarding these issues received on social media portal are yet to be resolved. Please take swift action to address these complaints and abate air pollution in Delhi,” stated the letter dated October 6.
Bhure Lal, chief of the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (Epca), said, “We are observing the air quality trends. A meeting regarding implementation of the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) with state governments of Delhi-NCR to curb the deteriorating air quality is scheduled on Thursday.”
Delhi witnesses a spike in air pollution every year during winter due to a combination of changing meteorological conditions which makes dispersion of pollutants difficult and burning of crop stubble in the neighbouring states. The Epca enforces several mitigating measures under Grap such as sprinkling of water on roads, ban on construction and use of diesel generator (DG) sets, depending on the severity of pollution levels.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (Safar), the Central government’s air quality monitoring and forecasting wing, Delhi’s air may deteriorate further till October 10, still remaining in the poor zone though.
“Further deterioration in AQI is expected by October 9-10 but it may stay in the poor category. An increase in stubble burning was observed yesterday (Tuesday) around Punjab and Haryana. The wind direction and speed are favourable for transport and accumulation of pollutants in Delhi and worsening of air quality in the coming days is expected,” the Safar bulletin said.
According to the Safar bulletin, 336 fire fires were reported across the northern region on Tuesday.
This year, after January and February, which had several ‘poor’ days, only two ‘poor’ category days were recorded each in the months of March, May and June. Previously, Delhi had recorded ‘poor’ air quality on June 28 with an AQI of 209 and on June 29 with AQI value of 230. April, July, August and September had only ‘satisfactory’ and ‘moderate’ days. In fact, August was the cleanest month since 2015 when four ‘good’ air days were recorded.
“The weather is slowly transitioning to winter. There are calm winds during the early morning hours. The wind speed picks up only during the day and gain slow down by evening. The average wind speed during the day was 15-16 kmph. The wind speed as well as both day and night temperatures will further reduce after October 15. The calm winds and falling mercury coupled with smoke from stubble burning is not favourable for dispersion of pollutants,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, head of India Meteorological Department’s regional weather forecasting centre.