Air Quality Index Delhi: Pollution in several areas of NCR escalates to 'severe plus' category; average AQI in October less than 2018, says report

  • Pollution levels in Delhi and neighbouring NCR region escalated to hazardous levels and visibility dropped significantly after a thick blanket of smog engulfed several parts of the city on Sunday

  • According to ANI, the air quality index (AQI) of certain places docked as high as 625 at 10 am on Sunday morning despite light drizzles

  • At 11 am, Delhi's AQI stood at 483, reports PTI. Weather experts claim pollution levels escalated overnight due to calm winds leading to accumulation of pollutants

Pollution levels in Delhi and neighbouring  National Capital Region (NCR)region escalated on Sunday morning, with the air quality bordering the 'severe plus' category at several places. According to ANI, the air quality index (AQI) of certain places docked as high as 625 at 10 am on Sunday morning despite light drizzles. Noida topped the list of being the most polluted region with an AQI of 667 on Sunday, reports Skymet. At least 32 flights have been diverted at the Delhi airport as a thick blanket of smog engulfed several parts of the city on Sunday morning, reports ANI.

 Air Quality Index Delhi: Pollution in several areas of NCR escalates to severe plus category; average AQI in October less than 2018, says report

Noida: Major pollutants PM 2.5 at 486 and PM 10 at 459 both in 'severe' category in Sector-62, according to data on Sunday. ANI

At 11 am, Delhi's AQI stood at 483, reports PTI. Weather experts claim pollution levels escalated overnight due to calm winds leading to accumulation of pollutants.

The AQI at Pusa, Bawana, Anand Vihar, Ashok Vihar, Mundka, Punjabi Bagh and ITO was between 490 and 500. In the NCR, Noida (487), Ghaziabad (483) and Greater Noida (470), Gurgaon (457), breathed extremely polluted air.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered as 'good', 51-100 as 'satisfactory', 101-200 as 'moderate', 201-300 as 'poor', 301-400 as 'very poor', and 401-500 as 'severe'. Anything above 500 comes under 'severe-plus emergency' category.

As per Skymet, the overall AQI of Delhi had crossed the 600 mark on the index on Saturday night as pollution levels are expected to reduce in the next 24 to 48 hours. Delhi is pinning hopes on meteorological relief with the weatherman saying winds gusting up to 20 to 25 kilometres per hour are likely to prevail in the region from Sunday evening to Tuesday.

The National Captial is likely to get some respite in the coming days as scattered rainfall in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi is expected on 7 and 8 November due to Cyclone Maha and a fresh western disturbance, Skymet reported. This rainfall, however light, will be significant in terms of reducing the effect of stubble burning and washing away pollutants, weather officials have said.

Delhi's average AQI in October less than 2018, says report

To everyone's surprise, reports have indicated that even though the situation is critical in the National Capital this year, in 2018, the situation was much worse, for the month of October. According to India Today data intelligence unit, which analysed the air quality data for the month of October in 2019 and compared it with the AQI numbers of October 2018, it found that on an average the National Capital's air was less hazardous in October 2019 than it was last year.

The report states, "The average AQI for October 2018 was 285 which dipped to 239 this year. Though there is a drop of 46 points, however, the AQI still remains in the 201-300 zone in both years, thus maintaining its 'poor' status."

The study found out that in 2018, October had 17 days with 'poor' air quality, 10 days with 'very poor' and one day with 'severe' air quality. Though Delhi has recorded more number of days with 'severe' air quality in 2019 in October, on an average there were lesser number of days that recorded 'poor' or 'very poor' categories when compared to this year. In 2019, October has had zero days with 'good' air quality (with less than 50 points on the AQI) and had two days with 'satisfactory'.

After last year's Diwali, Delhi's AQI had crossed the 600-mark, which is 12 times the safe limit. In 2017, the AQI post-Diwali was 367, while in 2016 it was 425.  The period between 15 October and 15 November is considered critical for Delhi-NCR's air quality due to stubble burning in neighbouring states, firecracker emissions on Diwali and weather patterns across the region trapping pollutants in the atmosphere

Noida, Ghaziabad cross 600 mark

Meanwhile, NASA satellite imagery showed vast swathes of the northern plains, covering Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and parts of Jharkhand and West Bengal, blanketed under a smoky haze. Apart from the capital, Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad and Noida are also reeling under the wave of severe air pollution. In both places, the AQI has crossed the mark of 600. People residing in these areas complained of eye irritation and suffocation due to deteriorating air quality.

"We are athletes and have most of the events in the winter seasons. This thick smog is affecting our health making it difficult to breathe in the poisonous air. The government must do something about it," Prashant Shukla, a local from Ghaziabad, told ANI.

Another local from Ghaziabad, Mukul Sharma, also narrated his ordeal and said, "I am coughing too much these days. I do not know how to safeguard myself from increasing air pollution. The government must tighten the noose around stubble burning."

After Delhi, all government and private schools up till Class 12 in Noida and Greater Noida will remain closed on 4 and 5 November in the wake of a spike in the pollution level, officials aanounced on Sunday. The Gautam Buddh Nagar administration said the decision has been taken as the levels of particulate matter 2.5 and 10 have been excessive in the air since Diwali, resulting in a major dip in the overall air quality.

Authorities in Nodia have also conducted checks at various construction sites and arrested 38 people for flouting the construction ban on Saturday. Thirty-three people were arrested from four sites in Noida by the city magistrate, while one was held by the deputy collector in Dadri. This action has been taken to ensure implementation of the EPCA guidelines and in public interest.

Experts have advised to wear face masks during outdoor exposure and limit outdoor activities to a minimum. Outdoor exercise and ventilation have not recommended against.

On Friday, Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a public health emergency as the air quality will have an adverse health impact on all particularly the children.
The layer of smog and dust particles is due to worsening air quality causes throat irritation and leads to serious health risk.

The share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution stood at 46 per cent on Friday, the highest so far. It dropped to 17 percent on Saturday and is expected to be 12 percent on Sunday, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor SAFAR.

To combat the menace of air pollution, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi has announced the implementation of the Odd-Even scheme from 4 to 15 November 2019. He has repeatedly said that the smog from the nearby states caused by the burning of crop residue is the major cause of pollution in the region.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 03, 2019 15:09:24 IST