The best Delhi can hope for is air quality to stay in ‘very poor’ range
New Delhi: The air quality index (AQI) on Saturday clocked 401, an improvement from the previous day’s 423, but still in the ‘severe’ category. By 9pm, it went up further and reached 450.
However, according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality index of Delhi has improved and likely to go back to the ‘very poor’ range against all adverse weather conditions. “The level may not improve further as weather conditions are still unfavourable,” a SAFAR scientist said.
“As predicted, the stubble burning intrusion was not expected due to slow upper winds but the unfavourable weather made dispersion very slow and could have aggravated pollution levels as a result of normal locally generated emissions during night,” the scientist said.
“The bias in predicted and observed pollution level indicates a loss in local emissions (means less PM production), but already accumulated pollution continued to disperse slowly to improve the air quality to match with SAFARpredicted levels of zero external fire emission,” he said, adding that at present the contribution of stubble fire emissions is marginal.
“There is heavy fire count but very weak winds (northwesterly) and thereby unlikely to impact Delhi air significantly. The stubble fire share is also low, at 7%, under fair Of 40 stations that monitor air quality in NCR, 26 were in the severe zone. In the other 14, the air was very poor. This data is for 9pm and figures will vary widely from overall mentioned elsewhere weather conditions,” a SAFAR analysis stated.
On Friday, the rise in the pollution levels in the past 24 hours is primarily due to low temperatures, sluggish wind speed and winds blowing in from the north-west.
According to its prediction system, Delhi’s average PM2.5 level, hovering around 246 micrograms per cubic metre, could come down to 222 on Sunday, while the PM10 level, recorded at 412 micrograms per cubic metre, could jump to 350.
Alongside the capital, neighbouring Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Greater Noida and Noida all had air classified as ‘severe’, with only Gurgaon marginally better in the ‘very poor’ range with an AQI of 363.
CPCB’s central control room data showed Delhi-NCR’s average PM2.5 and PM10 on Saturday reaching over four times the safe standard. While PM2.5 at 6pm clocked 261.1mg/m3, PM10 at the same time stayed at 416.4mg/m3. This, however, is an improvement from Friday when the levels went over the “emergency” limit of 300 and 500 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively.
On Saturday, 1,559 heavy and medium goods vehicles were checked and 1,078 were allowed entry from 11pm on Friday till 6am on Saturday as they were carrying essential goods, said joint commissioner of police (traffic) Alok Kumar. He added that as many as 481 vehicles were returned from the Delhi borders.