Air pollution: Delhi enjoys cleanest February in three years

The number of days with ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’ air quality has gone down while days with ‘moderate’ air quality have risen. Central Pollution Control Board data shows that the number of days in February with ‘very poor’ air quality dropped from 15 in 2016 to four in 2017. In 2018 it dropped to three.
Scientists said the clean air is a combined effect of measures taken to curb pollution and favourable meteorological conditions.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Scientists said the clean air is a combined effect of measures taken to curb pollution and favourable meteorological conditions.(Sanchit Khanna/HT PHOTO)
Updated on Feb 28, 2018 12:33 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

As air quality improves and with winter gone, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) is likely to lift the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) from March 1, two weeks before it was scheduled to come to an end.

Delhi is enjoying its cleanest February in three years as far as the air quality index is concerned. The number of days with ‘very poor’ and ‘poor’ air quality has gone down while days with ‘moderate’ air quality have risen.

Data released by the Central Pollution Control Board shows that the number of days in February with ‘very poor’ air quality dropped from 15 in 2016 to four in 2017. In 2018 it dropped to three.

Similarly, ‘poor’ quality days have dropped from 22 in 2017 to 18 this year. Days with ‘moderate’ air quality has gone up from 0 in 2016 to two in 2017. In 2018, there were six days of moderate air quality in February.

“There were two ‘moderate’ days in February 2017. The AQI was 162 on February 7, 2017. This year the AQI dropped to 140 on Monday – the lowest AQI recorded in February in last three years,” said a senior CPCB official.

Scientists said the clean air is a combined effect of measures taken to curb pollution and favourable meteorological conditions.

“A slew of measures had been rolled out to keep pollution levels under control. Other measures such as the ban on pet coke and furnace oil have also yielded results. Meteorological conditions are also favourable. Strong winds are blowing and temperature is rising, which is aiding better air circulation. This is helping in dispersal of pollutants,” D Saha, former head of the CPCB’s air quality laboratory, said.

Officials from the regional weather forecasting centre said the wind speed had been high over the past 10-12 days. On Monday, it was around 35 km per hour. In winter, wind speed drops to less 5 km per hour.

“Measures under the GRAP to combat ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ pollution levels were rolled out for the first time from October 17, 2017. It was scheduled to end on March 15, 2018. But with air quality better and showing signs of further improvement, the plan is likely to be withdrawn from March 1,” said an EPCA member.

Even though measures to control levels of ‘severe’ and ‘very poor’ are likely to be lifted, ban on open burning will continue throughout the year.

Hindustan Times had earlier reported that despite the toxic haze that had engulfed Delhi for more than a week in November 2017, the Capital breathed comparatively cleaner air in 2017 than in 2016.

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