Following Deepavali, thick haze covers Delhi

Air quality reaches emergency level

Following Deepavali, thick haze covers Delhi

The air pollution levels in Delhi breached the emergency standard on Deepavali night, as people residing in the national capital region woke up to a layer of haze.

From the “very poor” category of air during the day, pollution built up rapidly during the night, hitting the emergency mark.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the air quality index (AQI) for Delhi stands at 403 (category: severe) on Friday.

The satellite towns of Noida (402) and Ghaziabad (412), too, fall in the severe category, while the air quality in Gurgaon (397) was very poor. Data from Faridabad was not available.

An AQI from 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor, and 401 and above severe. The permissible limits of the two dust pollutants – PM2.5 and PM 10 – were 60 and 100 microgramme per cubic metre, respectively.

“Despite the cracker ban, the 24-hour average level of PM 2.5 (particulate matter of 2.5 micron diametre) during Deepavali and the morning after (12 pm–12 am, October 19-20) has been 397 microgramme per cubic metre. This is 6.6 times higher than the standards and are at emergency levels,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research, Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.

The pollution levels in the morning after Deepavali worsened due to a calm wind and higher moisture in the air.

Since October 1, the air pollution levels hovered around the poor to very poor categories, but it breached the emergency level on Deepavali night.

Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, however, claimed that post Deepavali, the Delhi air was better than the situation last year. “People are breathing freely this time. We were better prepared,” he said.

B’luru moderate  

A day after Deepavali, the air quality of southern and eastern Indian cities were better than the northern ones, according to the CPCB data. The two cleanest cities were Durgapur and Haldia in West Bengal, whereas with an AQI of 157, Bengaluru was in the moderate category.

CPCB monitors the air quality of 39 cities, but in most of the cities there are only one or two monitoring stations. Only three cities — Delhi (14), Hyderabad (6) and Bengaluru (4) — have more than two air quality monitoring stations.

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