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Delhi air pollution peaks as temperature dips to season’s coldest

Officials said the average air quality index (AQI) — the measure of pollutants in the air — shot up to 463, compared to 448 on Tuesday.

delhi Updated: Nov 08, 2017 12:28 IST
Joydeep Thakur
Joydeep Thakur
Hindustan Times
Delhi news,Delhi weather,Delhi temperature
Primary sections of schools were closed by the Delhi government on Wednesday. (BURHAAN KINU / HT PHOTO)

Delhi’s pollution levels spiked further on Wednesday as a toxic haze thickened across the city, leaving millions of people facing severe health hazards in the national capital. With additional pollutants pouring in from surrounding areas and no ground wind to disburse existing particulate matter, the condition is likely to deteriorate further.

The smog-like conditions, which have blocked the sun since Tuesday, also pulled the mercury down to the season’s coldest at 14 degree Celsius, more than two degrees lower than Tuesday’s 16.1 degree Celsius. As the 30-year average for minimum temperature in November is 12.9, it can go down further.

Burning eyes, choking lungs: Here’s what Delhi looks like as air pollution rises

While high altitude wind was bringing in polluted air from the neighbouring states, experts said that lack of ground wind was preventing disbursal of the pollutants. “Conditions are likely to deteriorate as pollutants are not getting flushed out. More pollutants are coming in from regions where stubble burning is on and it is adding to the local emissions,” said a senior official of Central Pollution Control Board.

Primary sections of schools were closed on Wednesday as the government initiated several steps to protect young lungs from the foul air, said to be a result of vehicular pollution and crop residue burning in neighbouring states such as Punjab and Haryana.

The Delhi government has also asked schools to restrict outdoor activities for senior classes, a day after chief minister Arvind Kejriwal described the city as a “gas chamber”.

Officials said the average air quality index (AQI) — the measure of pollutants in the air — shot up to 463, compared to 448 on Tuesday.

A thick blanket of haze covered Delhi on Wednesday as the temperature dipped to 14 degree Celsius. ( Sonu Mehta / HT Photo )

In some monitoring stations at Punjabi Bagh, Shadipur, Mathura Road and Lodhi Road the AQI had crossed 480, officials said.

Level of PM10 and PM2.5 — fine pollutants called particulate matter — had also shot up by 10–15 times while the haze reduced visibility to a near-zero at IGI airport in the early morning hours, a met official said.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution and Control Authority (EPCA) on Tuesday ordered a four-time hike in parking fee and a cut in Metro fare in a series of emergency measures to curb the alarming pollution.

The EPCA also asked governments of Delhi and neighbouring states to prepare for road rationing, better known as odd-even scheme, if pollution levels touch the emergency threshold.

Under the graded response action plan mandated by the Supreme Court for tackling air pollution, emergency is declared when the AQI shoots beyond 500.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) on Tuesday issued a stern warning on potential health hazards, describing New Delhi as a “public health emergency state”. This was primarily because the suspended particulate matter in the air was at “hazardous” levels through the day across all monitoring stations.

In 2016, the air pollution in Delhi was the worst on record, and the city had experienced its thickest smog in 17 years, with the average AQI hitting a peak of 497.

First Published: Nov 08, 2017 10:21 IST

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