The air pollution level in the national capital and areas around it took a turn for the worse on Wednesday with the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaching the lower end of the 'Very Poor' category. The city has been reeling under severe air pollution since the fag-end of October. In the morning, the AQI in Delhi docked at 303, according to the Center-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).
The AQI was recorded the highest in Chandni Chowk at 373, followed by Mathura Road at 311, Dhirpur at 310, IIT Delhi at 306, Delhi University and Airport (T3) at 303, Lodhi Road at 297, Pusa at 273, and Ayanagar at 266. The AQI in Noida stood at 285 and Gurugram at 281.
The AQI is forecasted to deteriorate to the middle-end of the 'Very Poor' category on December 5. Further deterioration to the higher-end of the 'Very Poor' category is forecasted for December 6. A slight increase in fire count has been estimated on December 2 as per SAFAR multi-satellite product and is 332. The stubble transport-level winds are north-westerly but the wind speed is high which is not favourable for pollutant accumulation.
In November, the Supreme Court had come down heavily on the Centre and state government over their failure to tackle the pollution crisis in the national capital regions. A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta remarked, "The people of Delhi are living in a gas chamber. It is better to get explosives and kill everyone".
Measures like containing stubble burning activities in the neighbouring states of Punjab, Haryana, implementation of the odd-even scheme in Delhi and banning all sort of construction activities in Delhi-NCR were taken in order to control the air pollution in the capital and adjoining areas.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered `good`, 51-100 `satisfactory`, 101-200 `moderate`, 201-300 `poor`, 301-400 `very poor` and 401-500 is marked as `severe`. An AQI above 500 falls in the `severe plus` category.
During winter each year, most of northern India suffers from a spike in toxicity in the air due to the change in weather patterns and crop residue burning in the neighbouring states of Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh.