Air remains toxic; may get worse, warn experts
Air quality in the city remained “very poor” for the fourth consecutive day on Friday, recording 318 on the Central Pollution Control Board’s daily AQI bulletin. Gurugram, however, remained the least polluted city in the National Capital Region thanks to the influence of easterly winds, which, experts and officials said, are dispersing pollutants to a degree.
Delhi, Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida and Ghaziabad all recorded higher levels of air pollution on Friday. Delhi and Faridabad recorded “very poor” AQI, with readings of 382 and 383, respectively. However, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida and Noida, lying further east, recorded severe air with AQI readings in excess of 400.
Experts and officials said that “very poor” air is likely to persist in the region till at least December end, and cautioned that another severe smog episode is likely around December 7.
Sachin Panwar, an independent city-based air quality scientist, said, “The current pollution levels will persist for the next few weeks, with periodic episodes of severe smog. There are no weather systems expected to pass over the region in the foreseeable future, and with temperatures continuing to drop, pollutants have begun to accumulate and air may enter the severe category in Gurugram too, if wind speeds slow down further.”
Panwar pointed out that winds are currently blowing from the southeast of Delhi, and causing westward dispersal of pollutants. “Gurugram, lying south of Delhi, is positioned favourably. Wind speeds in the city were also higher than in Noida and Ghaziabad, where models showed stagnant airflow on Friday, leading to severe air in those cities.”
Gurugram’s average level of ultrafine particulate matter (PM2.5), the city’s primary pollutant, was recorded at 360 micrograms per cubic metres (ug/m3) on Friday.
As per the early air quality warning system for Delhi-NCR, “Air quality is likely to improve marginally but remain in upper end of very poor category on 05.12.2020 and very poor category on 06.12.2020... The air quality is likely to improve from December 7 but remain largely in Very Poor category.” Wind speeds are expected to remain between 5 and 10kmph over the next three days.
Kuldeep Singh, regional officer, HSPCB, said, “We are monitoring the situation. Grap rules are already in place. If air quality enters the severe category, we will abide by any orders that are issued, either by the CPCB or the new commission on air quality management.”