New Delhi: The level of particulate matter in the atmosphere - in other words, the pollution level - has trebled in Delhi over the past few days. The immediate effect is on health, especially on those with respiratory problems, and probably even on the Commonwealth Games, said an expert at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).
Vivek Chattopadhyaya, a senior researcher at the green think tank CSE, said that the level of carbon monoxide (CO) in the air late Friday was 6,000 microgram per cubic centimetre, while the standard level is 2,000.
"The nitrogen dioxide level was also found to be marginally higher and various kinds of pollutants have been noticed in the atmosphere in Delhi," he said.
According to CSE, despite all measures like bringing in CNG vehicles, air pollution is on the rise in the capital.
"Delhi has lost the gains of its CNG programme. Its air is becoming increasingly unbreathable. Way back in 2007, we had said that Delhi will wake up every winter to more smog and pollution, wheezes and asthma. All of that is back," said Anumita Roy Choudhury, head of CSE`s Right to Clean Air campaign.
"At this rate even global events like the 2010 Commonwealth Games are at stake," she added.
"A worrying trend is the lowering ridership of Delhi buses. According to a 2008 study, the ridership between 2001-2008 has fallen from 60 percent to 41 percent," Choudhury said.
In order to combat this trend, she said that Delhi needs to think of a more viable public transport system and to curb the exponential growth of private vehicles, especially those which run on diesel.
On Saturday morning, visibility had dropped to 500 metres as a thick fog hung over the city for the first time this winter. Flights however were not affected.
As the fog lifted in the latter part of the day, the minimum temperature was recorded at one degree above the average at 15.5 degree Celsius.
The maximum temperature was a degree above average, at 29.4 degree Celsius.
RC Vashisht, director of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), attributed the fog to the approaching dry winds from the west of India.
"Western disturbances over north Pakistan area has resulted in moisture in northwest India. Plus there is a cooling effect since winters are approaching," Vashisht said.