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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

City’s air quality on a steady decline

cities Updated: Nov 22, 2019 21:01 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent

Gurugram Air quality in the city continued to steadily deteriorate on Friday, settling at an air quality index (AQI) score of 288 (‘poor’) on the Central Pollution Control Board’s bulletin. While this was only marginally higher than the previous day’s AQI of 280, it marks at least a two-fold jump in pollution levels since November 19, when the AQI touched a season-low of 125 (‘moderate’).

The daily average concentration of finer particulate matter, smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, (PM2.5) recorded by the city’s official air quality monitor at Vikas Sadan on Friday was 293ug/m3, more than four times the national safe limit of 60ug/m3. 

Exactly one week ago, on November 17, the PM2.5 level was at a daily average of 125ug/m3. Experts and officials have attributed this gradual buildup to the accumulation of pollutants caused by slow wind speeds and overcast skies, which do not allow pollutants to be dispersed either laterally or vertically.

Despite this, however, Gurugram remains the cleanest major area in Delhi-NCR, and the only one with ‘poor’ air quality, while Delhi, Noida, Faridabad and Ghaziabad have all been recording ‘very poor’ air over the past few days.

“This is mainly due to Gurugram’s lucky geographical position, with respect to meteorology. Manesar and Gurugram city lie squarely in the route of northwesterly winds, giving us the benefit of having relatively cleaner air. Pollutants, which would otherwise have accumulated in the event of no winds, are being transported out of the city,” said Sachin Panwar, a city-based air quality scientist.

With the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting an increase in wind speed over the next two days, however, the gradual increase in pollution is likely to be arrested by Friday, according to a senior CPCB scientist.

“There will be particularly strong surface winds during the afternoon, between 15 to 20 kmph, so we are watching out for improvements during the day,” the CPCB official said.