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Chandigarh:Dusty haze grounds all 33 flights, expected to clear after rain today

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the air quality in the region deteriorated because of dust storms in western India, particularly Rajasthan.

punjab Updated: Jun 15, 2018 09:28 IST
Dusty haze,Central Pollution Control Board,climate
The air quality index (AQI) on Thursday went beyond the severe limit of 500 to 575. (HT Photo)

A pall of dust over the tricity grounded all flights from Chandigarh International Airport on Thursday, and pushed up pollution levels, with the air quality index (AQI) going up to 575, the highest ever since its data started being compiled in the city in 2017.

All 33 flights, including three international flights, from Chandigarh International Airport were cancelled. “Due to the disruption caused by bad weather at Chandigarh, all flight operations from Chandigarh were cancelled for June 14,” a communique from the airport public relations officer Deepesh Joshi said.

An Air India Express flight to Sharjah at 5:30 pm departed from Delhi instead. All Chandigarh passengers for Sharjah were shifted to Delhi by bus to board the flight on time, Joshi said. The remaining operators refunded tickets to their passengers.

Some flights will remain suspended on Friday as well, a late-night release from the airport said.

These include Indigo’s 6E 545/455 (Delhi-Chandigarh) and 6E 3512/491 (Bengaluru-Chandigarh); and Jet Airways’s 9W 641 (Delhi-Chandigarh), 9W 648 (Delhi-Chandigarh), 9W 665 (Delhi-Chandigarh) and 9W 656 (Delhi-Chandigarh).

Passenger Furqan Wani, who was to fly to Srinagar to be home in time for Eid said he would have reach his destination via Delhi one day late on Friday.

Officials from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Chandigarh, have said the dust was expected to settle down when light rain and strong surface winds caused by Western Disturbances hit the tricity on Friday evening.

Air quality categorised as ‘severe’ 

The air quality index (AQI) on Thursday went beyond the severe limit of 500 to 575. AQI between 0-50 is considered “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor”, and 401-500 “severe”.

The dust had been blown into the tricity by winds at relatively slow speeds of up to 46.3 Km/h on Wednesday, IMD officials said.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the air quality in the region deteriorated because of dust storms in western India, particularly Rajasthan.

Shivinder Singh, a scientist with the IMD, said the phenomenon had been caused by the south Westerlies, usually typical to states like Rajasthan.

An analysis of the last five days by Dr Ravinder Khaiwal, associate professor, environment, School of Public Health, PGIMER, Chandigarh, showed incoming flow of air from Afghanistan to Chandigarh. This had been intensified by local dust storms in Rajasthan, UP and Haryana, he said.

Confirming a big drop in air quality since Wednesday, Vivek Pandey of Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee said, “In this period air quality usually remains ‘satisfactory,’ ranging from 51-100.”

Docs advise caution

Doctors have advised caution in this phase for people venturing outdoors.

Dr D Behera, professor, pulmonary medicine, PGIMER said, “People suffering from asthma, lung fibrosis or any other respiratory infection must stay indoors or wear a face mask.”

Dr VK Maini, a pulmonary specialist in the city said, people with breathing problems should keep anti-allergy medication and inhalers handy. “Small water features can also be put in rooms as the resultant humidity can control the dust. Strenuous physical exercise should also be avoided,” he added.

Inputs from Tanbir Dhaliwal

First Published: Jun 15, 2018 09:07 IST