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Delhi air pollution: Haze horror likely to continue today, may clear by Friday

Delhi air pollution triggered scare as the city breathed poison on Wednesday, prompting officials to close schools, halt construction and the entry of trucks.

delhi Updated: Nov 09, 2017 07:29 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
New Delhi, Hindustan Times

A train from Jalandhar to Pathankot emerges in the dense fog on November 07, 2017. While experts are still undecided about whether it’s fog or smog that’s engulfed most of north India, trains continued to be delayed. (Pardeep Pandit / HT Photo)

The smog-like condition that the national capital is reeling under is likely to continue on Thursday.

Delhiites, however, can expect some respite from Friday onwards when the pollution starts dissipating owing to weather conditions gradually turning in Delhi’s favour MeT experts predicted.

SAFAR, which is maintained by the Union ministry of earth sciences, has forecasted that the levels of both PM2.5 and PM10 – the two primary pollutants – could drop by nearly 50% by Saturday.

But this means that the city’s pollution level will improve slightly (drop to very poor from the presently severe level) compared to what it is now. The hopes of experiencing good or satisfactory air quality will still be a far cry.

On Tuesday, the average AQI of the city was recorded at 448. It further spiked on Wednesday and hit the 478 level. An AQI value between 401 and 500 means that the air is severely polluted. Such high levels of pollution were last seen in November 2016 when the AQI had shot up to 497.

“The level of PM2.5 – the ultrafine particles that can cause maximum harm — shot up more than 20 times above the permissible limit in some places such as Lodhi Road, Mathura Road, ITO and Delhi University on Wednesday. On Tuesday it was hovering around 10 – 15 times above the permissible limit,” said an official of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Experts said that the present meteorological conditions are such that it was not allowing any pollutants to disperse.

“The pollution has got trapped. The primary reason for this is two-fold. While surface level winds have become very calm and are not allowing the pollutants to disperse, high altitude winds, that travel at least two kilometres above the ground and are primary responsible for transportation of pollutants, are strong. They are not only bringing in pollutants from stubble burning regions of Punjab and Haryana, but are also bringing in moisture from the east. This is aggravating the conditions,” said a senior official of the MeT department.

But this situation is likely to be reversed from Friday, experts have forecasted.

“The surface winds, which are very calm at present, are likely to pick up speed again. This will help the pollutants trapped in Delhi’s air to disperse. The high altitude winds, which are presently very strong, will also become weaker. This would ensure that the pollutants which they transport are not deposited over Delhi,” said Gufran Beig project director of SAFAR.

First Published: Nov 09, 2017 07:10 IST