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Delhi’s air quality remains ‘severe’ despite marginal improvement

Indian Metrological Department (IMD) officials said the minimum visibility stood at 400 metres, better than Thursday’s 200 metres. Nevertheless, 48 trains were delayed, one cancelled and seven rescheduled.

delhi Updated: Nov 10, 2017 12:40 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhi smog,Delhi pollution level,Delhi odd even
Many Delhiites have taken to wearing face masks as pollution mounts in the national capital. (AFP photo)

Delhi’s air quality remained “severe” for the fourth consecutive day on Friday morning, although visibility as well as particulate matter levels seemed to show some improvement.

Indian Metrological Department (IMD) officials said the minimum visibility stood at 400 metres, better than Thursday’s 200 metres. Foggy conditions are declared when visibility goes below 1,000 metres.

Friday was coldest day of the season, with the minimum temperature dipping to 13 degrees Celsius. Thursday, which registered a minimum temperature of 13.8 degrees Celsius, was the second coldest so far.

The air quality index (AQI) recorded at 7.30 am was 483, a very small drop from Thursday’s average of 486, signifying that it still remained in the “severe” zone. Later, at 9 am, it rose to 484 while Ghaziabad stood at 498, Gurgaon at 485 and Noida at 485 – inching towards distressing levels.

At the Delhi Technological University station, the AQI maxed out at 500. The situation in major cities across the northern belt remained grim too, with Agra registering 409, Bhiwadi 457, Faridabad 440, Kanpur 428, Lucknow 471, Muzaffarpur 431 and Varanasi 463.

The AQI ranges from 0-500, with 500 as the worst possible air quality.

Indian Railway officials said 48 trains were delayed, one cancelled and seven rescheduled.

On Thursday, particulate matter levels declined for the first time since November 7 – when pollution levels surpassed the “severe” category in Delhi-NCR. The IMD forecast states that the AQI will return to “very poor” levels from “severe” by Saturday.

Incidentally, SAFAR – which is affiliated to the Union ministry of earth sciences – had predicted that levels of particulate matter would drop by 30% by Friday.

The average level of PM10 in the NCR, which had earlier shot up to over 800ug/m3, dropped to less than 750 ug/m3 by 6 pm on Thursday. The PM2.5 level also dropped from 600 ug/m3 to around 550 ug/m3.

Airtel, a key sponsor of the Delhi Half Marathon scheduled for November 19, has threatened to pull out if the air quality does not improve by then. Real-time air quality data collected by members of the Help Delhi Breathe and #MyRightToBreathe collective from five locations along the marathon’s 20-km stretch showed that particulate matter pollution still stood at dangerous levels.

India Gate, for instance, registered a particulate matter pollution (PM 2.5) level of 1500 µg/m3. The CPCB standard for PM 2.5 pollution is 60 µg/m3 (24-hour average).

Concerned over the worsening air quality, the Arvind Kejriwal government has announced the implementation of the odd-even road rationing plan from November 13 to 17. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), however, said this measure could have come sooner.

“The air quality has started improving, and weather conditions will get much better by Saturday. Odd-even would have been more effective if it was done in the last three days,” D Saha, who heads the air quality laboratory at the CPCB, told HT on Thursday.

First Published: Nov 10, 2017 11:41 IST