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Environment

Five Areas of NCR Record Severe Air Pollution as Delhi Continues to Choke

The Central Pollution Control Board recorded the overall air quality index in Delhi as being 341 as stubble burning from Punjab and Haryana contributed to pollution.

New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality remained very poor for the fourth day on October 27 with five areas of the national capital recording severe pollution levels, as authorities warned the situation may deteriorate further next week due to localised emissions during the festival and stubble burning.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded the overall air quality index (AQI) in Delhi as being 341. The highest AQI of this season was recorded on Friday, October 26, at 361.

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On Saturday, five areas in Delhi recorded severe pollution levels. These are Anand Vihar, Dwarka Sector 8, Narela, Punjabi Bagh and Rohini. Punjabi Bagh recorded the highest pollution level in the national capital at 434.

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor” and 401 and 500 “severe”.

According to the data by the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality of Delhi is set to deteriorate in the coming days, remaining a few points below the ‘severe’ category.

The CPCB-led task force has recommended stringent measures from November 1 to 10, predicting further deterioration in the air quality ahead of Diwali.

Some of these recommendations include a shutdown of coal and biomass factories, intensification of inspection by the transport department to check polluting vehicles and control traffic congestion in Delhi-NCR during November 1-10.

Authorities have issued an advisory, asking people to avoid outdoor strenuous activities and minimise the use of private vehicles.

Also Read: Supreme Court Allows ‘Safe’ Firecrackers for Diwali; Restrictions in Delhi

The PM2.5 level (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) was recorded at 179. The PM10 level (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) in Delhi stood at 321, according to the data from the SAFAR. While both are considered major atmospheric pollutants, PM2.5, in particular, poses greater harm as its fine particles can easily be inhaled into the respiratory tract.

A report from the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) also stated that stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana contributed to 32 per cent of Delhi’s overall pollution on Saturday. The report showed that the highest contribution since October 11 by stubble burning was seen on Friday at 36 per cent while on Saturday, about 32 per cent of pollution by PM2.5 was caused by stubble burning.

Additionally, the report said that the stubble burning contribution to pollution will significantly reduce in the next two days. “Only 19 per cent pollution of PM2.5 would be caused by stubble burning on Sunday. Stubble burning would contribute to 15 per cent PM2.5 per cent pollution on Monday,” an official with the SAFAR said.

“On Thursday and Friday, more stubble was burnt in Punjab and Haryana due to which its contribution to PM2.5 pollution increased,” the official said, adding that the impact of pollution by stubble burning on the national capital could be seen only a day after the stubble is burnt. He also added that “Pollution would reduce in the next couple of days if the weather condition remains the same. The weather conditions include wind direction, temperature etc.”

Also Read: Where Has India’s Environmental Journey as an Independent Nation Brought Us?

The SAFAR report also analysed the trends of different factors causing pollution since 2010 and it said transport emission in the national capital has increased significantly at 41% in the last eight years. The residential bio-fuel emission declined significantly in Delhi at 64% since 2010, the report said.

Meanwhile, SAFAR issued a health advisory due to increased pollution levels in Delhi, urging people with heart or lung disease, older adults and children to avoid prolonged or heavy exertion. It also recommended people to go for shorter walks instead of jogs, keeping windows closed and wearing masks while stepping outside.