From 'poor' to 'very poor', Delhi chokes as air quality falls

Delhi's air quality took a turn for the worse today with it being recorded as "very poor" as the level of particulate matters spiked across the city thus breaching the safe category by a long distance, a condition expected to persist at least for the coming few days.

New Delhi: Delhi's air quality took a turn for the worse today with it being recorded as "very poor" as the level of particulate matters spiked across the city thus breaching the safe category by a long distance, a condition expected to persist at least for the coming few days.

The average reading of 10 areas showed that PM 10 and PM 2.5 (fine particles that can harm the lungs) were hovering around 368 and 222 microgram per cubic metre, much above the safe limits of 100 and 60.

The figures by SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) is a round up of figures from 10 stations across the capital.

However, areas such as Delhi University, Anand Vihar, Pitampura gave readings much higher than the average. SAFAR's Delhi University station recorded PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels at 345 and 362 respectively.

Anand Vihar and Pitampura, located at opposite ends of the megapolis, were highly polluted zones and had earned the "hazardous" warning of World Air Quality Index by afternoon. It came with a warning of possible serious health effects.

A senior official of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) explained that the situation will improve only if there are persistent thundershowers and strong wind movement, "both unlikely" at the moment.

"The phenomenon of smog at this time of the year is not unexpected. The westerly is ending up bringing residues of biomass burning from the neighbouring states to the capital's air. Falling temperature and local emissions have only added to the rise in pollution," the official said.

The official said although there is a possibility of thundershowers tomorrow, its intensity would hardly be enough to disperse the extremely large amount of suspended particulate matters present in the capital's air.

Neighbouring urban settlements such as Noida and Gurgaon fared no better in terms of polution. Noida, that falls in Uttar Pradesh recorded PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels of 392 and 270 at around 3.30 PM while Haryana's Gurgaon scored 296 and 276 respectively.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has asked Environment Minister Imran Hussain to take up the issue of burning of crop residue with the governments of Haryana and Punjab.

The National Green Tribunal today asked Delhi and four northern states to issue notification to curb crop burning.

SAFAR, under the Ministry of Earth Science, is a dedicated Air Quality Information Service for Indian Metropolitan Cites. 

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