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Mumbai breathes its cleanest air of 2018 but downpour hits flights and trains

With an air quality index (AQI) of 34, which falls under the ‘good’ category, it was also the second-cleanest air day since 2015

mumbai Updated: Jun 05, 2018 01:32 IST
HT Correspondents
HT Correspondents
Hindustan Times
Mumbai,Monsoon,air quality
Thundershowers and lighting were reported from several parts of Mumbai on Monday.(Kunal Patil/HT Photo)

On the eve of World Environment Day, Mumbai recorded a considerable decline in pollution levels, making Monday the cleanest air day so far this year.

With an air quality index (AQI) of 34, which falls under the ‘good’ category, it was also the second-cleanest air day since 2015, when air quality monitoring began. The lowest-ever AQI recorded in Mumbai has been 32 on October 12, 2017.

Mumbai’s air on Monday was also the cleanest among all cities where AQI levels are recorded – Delhi (97 - satisfactory); Pune (52 - satisfactory); and Ahmedabad (88 - satisfactory).

Researchers from the System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said air quality had improved owing to the recent pre-monsoon showers in Mumbai and surrounding areas on Saturday. “This is a typical phenomenon during monsoon, when the first showers wash away pollutants and dust suspended close to the earth’s surface,” said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR.

“From Saturday, the wind speed began picking up, and by Monday, the air was clean. We expect the AQI range to be between 50 and 60, under the satisfactory category, for the rest of the month.”

SAFAR has predicted an AQI of 66 (satisfactory) for Tuesday.

On Monday, all 10 locations in Mumbai, where SAFAR monitors AQI levels, recorded ‘good’ air quality, which too is a first for the city in 2018. While Worli recorded the cleanest air with an AQI of 15 (good), the most polluted location was Colaba at 49 (good).

Pre-monsoon showers hit city, flights and trains

Office-goers returning home by suburban trains and people flying into the city were inconvenienced on Monday evening as Mumbai witnessed a second round of pre-monsoon showers, accompanied by gusty winds and thundershowers.

The suburbs received 51mm rain between 7.15pm and 11.30pm. Island city and parts of Thane and Navi Mumbai, too, witnessed showers, but they were not as heavy as those in the suburbs. The first pre-monsoon showers were recorded on Saturday, when the city received 25.6mm rain. On Monday, however, the gusty winds caused chaos as flight operations at the Mumbai airport were thrown off schedule, with as many as 18 incoming flight being diverted and an average delay of 45 minutes reported till late in the night. Officials said pilots preferred to be on hold and do go-arounds rather than land in the weather conditions that prevailed and that led to increase in air traffic congestion.

Suburban trains on the Western and Central lines, too, were running at least 30 minutes behind schedule. While WR services were delayed as hoardings fell on the tracks at Marine Lines and Bandra, CR services were hit as a tree branch fell on the tracks between CSMT and Masjid. The CR spokesperson, however, denied the tree branch was the cause of delays. Sunil Udasi said an outstation train left late, causing the delays, and there was no major problem due to the rain.

The weather bureau has predicted rain and thundershowers for Tuesday evening as well.

“The pre-monsoon showers are developed due to the process of convection, wherein tall clouds are formed due to land heating through the day, and during the evening, this paves way for thundershowers. The gusty winds push the rain bearing clouds away fast,” said KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, India Meteorological Department. “The southwest monsoon is currently over south interior Karnataka, and has not entered Maharashtra so far. We expect thundershowers to increase from June 7, making conditions favourable for monsoon conditions to set in.”

First Published: Jun 05, 2018 01:03 IST