Dust haze looms over Punjab and Haryana, flight operations hit; Delhi's air quality remains severe for fourth day

A blanket of dust haze covered Punjab and Haryana for the third day on Friday, disrupting flight operations at the airport in Chandigarh. In view of the prevailing weather condition, some flight operators had on Thursday itself announced cancellation of flights scheduled for the day, airport officials said. On Thursday, over 30 flights were cancelled here as visibility levels dropped considerably due to the dust haze. Air quality and visibility levels have been hit by the dust haze.

The meteorological department has said that the situation was likely to improve by Friday evening. The weather department here said that a ground-level dust storm in Rajasthan, with wind speeds up to 40 kilometre per hour, had led to a spike in the levels of coarse particles in the air in most parts of Haryana and Punjab including Chandigarh.

Representational image. PTI

Representational image. PTI

Thunderstorm with squall is likely at isolated places in Haryana and Punjab on Friday and Saturday, according to the MeT Department forecast. In view of severe dust pollution, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) on Thursday issued an advisory that no construction activity could be carried out for the next two days in districts falling under the National Capital Region (NCR).

Haryana's Environment Minister Vipul Goel said the Board was monitoring the pollution level and would advise further necessary steps in consultation with the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority and the Central Pollution Control Board. The air quality in several parts of Punjab and Haryana has also been adversely affected for the past two days, officials said.

Children, the elderly and those who are ill, especially the ones facing respiratory issues, should take precautions and avoid going out in view of the prevailing weather conditions, health officials have advised.

Meanwhile, Delhi's air quality remained severe for the fourth consecutive day on Friday, even as authorities expressed hope that the condition would improve with strong winds expected to clear the stagnant air. The PM10 level (presence of particles with a diameter less than 10 mm) was recorded at 754 in Delhi-NCR and 801 in Delhi, leading to hazy conditions.

The PM2.5 level (presence of particles with a diameter less than 2.5 mm) that deteriorated from 'very poor' to 'severe' showed improvement today at 184 in Delhi region and 175 in Delhi NCR, said the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. On Thursday, the PM2.5 level in Delhi-NCR was at 268 and Delhi at 277.

According to the CPCB, the air quality index (AQI), a measurement of the concentration of toxic particulate matter in the air, at several places in Delhi remained over 500. An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 severe.

As the national capital region struggles with a severe dust pollution, Lieutenant Governor Anil Baijal on Thursday had ordered stoppage of all civil construction activities across the city till Sunday as part of the emergency measures which also include intensifying mechanical road sweeping.

Strong winds are expected to clear the air, said Gufran Beig, a scientist at the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research Institute (SAFAR). "The air quality is expected to improve and clear the stagnated dusty air that has primarily led to the rise in the pollution level," he said.

The India Meteorological Department said that the strong winds are expected to continue over the region. "Strong dust raising winds of the order of 25-35 kmph are likely to continue over Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi and west Uttar Pradesh during next 24 hours," the IMD said. It also predicted thunderstorms at isolated places over the city in the coming days, bringing relief from the dusty air. "Thunderstorm accompanied with gusty winds and lightning very likely at isolated places over Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, Rajasthan, east Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and north coastal Tamilnadu," it said.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Jun 15, 2018 14:32:57 IST

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