Delhi's air quality improves for 2nd consecutive day with AQI at 301
In fact, the AQI improved to a low of 291 at 7amon Sunday, falling into the “poor” zone for a few hours, before springing back past 300
The Capital’s air improved for a second straight day on Sunday, as winds swept in from the east and pushed Delhi’s pollution levels to the lower-end of the “very poor” zone on the air quality index (AQI).
At 301, Delhi’s AQI at 4pm on Sunday was better than 319 (very poor) at the same time a day ago and 405 (severe) on Friday, showed data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
In fact, the AQI improved to a low of 291 at 7amon Sunday, falling into the “poor” zone for a few hours, before springing back past 300.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Sunday predicted that stronger winds, blowing in from the northwest, will hit Delhi from Monday. Wind speeds, which were 6km/hr on Sunday, will touch 8km/hr by Monday, and 15km/hr by Tuesday, said the agency.
“Wind speeds will consistently remain over 10km/hr on Tuesday, when the prevailing western disturbance over Jammu and Kashmir begins to impact Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) too,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, a scientist at IMD.
Forecast by the Early Warning System (EWS) for Delhi said conditions are likely to become unfavourable for dispersal of pollutants once more from November 23.
“Delhi’s air quality is likely to remain in the ‘very poor’ category from Monday to Wednesday. The outlook for subsequent six days shows the air quality is likely to remain in the ‘very poor’ category. The weather conditions are likely to be highly unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants from November 23,” it said.
Srivastava said Delhi’s wind direction was northwesterly till noon on Saturday, but transitioned back to easterly after that. Easterly winds are warmer and bring moisture, while northwesterly winds are drier and colder. The latter is also favourable for transporting stubble smoke from Punjab towards the Capital.
Punjab recorded 740 farm fires on Sunday, up from 637 on Saturday.
Usually, the impact of farm fires recorded on a particular day is seen the next day, as smoke from stubble burning takes 24 to 36 hours to reach Delhi.
While the northwesterly winds that blow into Delhi from Punjab will bring in smoke from burning paddy fields in the agrarian state, their speeds will help disperse some of these pollutants. As a result, Delhi’s pollution levels are unlikely to change dramatically over the next couple of days.
Meanwhile, Delhi on Sunday recorded a minimum temperature of 12.2°C, around normal for this time of the year. a The maximum temperature was 27.2°C — a degree below normal.
Northwesterly winds are forecast to bring both maximum and minimum temperature down by 1-2 degrees in the coming days. Delhi’s maximum could drop to 25 degrees by November 22, while the minimum could dip to 10 degrees Celsius the day after, the IMD said.
Despite the improvement in AQI in the last 48 hours, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said people still needed to keep their guard up and be vigilant. “We saw a similar improvement before Diwali, but due to our own efforts, the air quality worsened again. This time again, we must be careful and ensure we do not add to the pollution,” he said.
Following the improvement in AQI by around 90 points, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR on Saturday announced that it revoked all measures under Stage 4 or the “severe” category of the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap). Under stage 4, the restrictions lifted include the ban on diesel light commercial vehicles (LCVs) registered outside of Delhi and below BS VI from entering into the capital; the ban on entry of trucks into Delhi, along with a ban on plying of diesel medium goods vehicles (MGVs) and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) in the capital. Ban on linear public projects such as highways, roads and laying down of pipelines, construction work, under stage 4, has now been lifted.
Rai said the only major restrictions still prevailing in NCR include a ban on private construction activity, along with a ban on plying of BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel vehicles. Both these restrictions are part of stage 3 of Grap, which is still in effect.
“In addition, CAQM’s restrictions on buses will prevail too, with only CNG, electric and BS-VI buses allowed to enter Delhi from NCR.” he said.
Data from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) showed the number of farm fires across the northern plains is also dipping gradually. Punjab recorded 740 farm fires on Sunday and Haryana 33. The count in both these states was 637 and 21 respectively on Saturday, and 1,150 and 45 fires respectively on Friday.