For the last two weeks, the air quality in Delhi and northern cities has rapidly deteriorated with the rise of pollutants due to low wind speeds. On Friday, the overall Air Quality in Delhi reached to ‘very poor’ category.
According to Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data, on Friday morning Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 387 in Anand Vihar, 333 in RK Puram, 391 in Rohini, and 390 in Dwarka hitting the ‘very poor category’.
Meanwhile, in Delhi-NCR the AQI was 365 at 8 a.m. on Friday and the values for Gurugram and Noida were 318 and 386 respectively, all three hitting the “red” category. It can cause “respiratory illness on prolonged exposure”, as per Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.
An AQI is studied as- between 0 and 50 is acknowledged as “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) stated that the most dominant factor for deterioration is the extremely calm surface wind in Delhi, combined with low inversion height accompanied by moderate stubble related intrusion.
Environment Minister Gopal Rai showcased his party’s attempts to reduce air pollution in Delhi after the inauguration of the “Red Light On, Gaadi Off” campaign under “Yuddh Pradushan Ke Viruddh”.
“Cars being switched off at red traffic lights can reduce vehicular pollution by 15-20%. Our government will work to curb internal pollution sources but for external sources like increasing stubble burning, we’re requesting Centre and neighbouring states to help,” Rai said.
“From October 26, we are starting a big campaign in 70 constituencies of Delhi where awareness drives will be launched to raise awareness regarding air pollution and its solutions for the citizens of Delhi. We will put all our efforts to control internal pollution. I request everyone to collectively participate in our campaign to reduce air pollution and make the environment safe for everyone,” the minister added.
Earlier in October when air quality reached very poor for the first time then Union Environment Minister Prakash Javedkar denied stubble burning as a cause of air pollution and said that the contribution of it was only 4% that day.
“This is a usual phenomenon for October-November, which is when air quality deteriorates. Some improvement is likely around October 26 when wind speed may pick up,” Hindustan Times quoted a senior IMD scientist.
Every year in the month of October India, especially the northern states, see deterioration in air quality. The month usually marks the withdrawal of monsoons in Northwest India. During monsoons, the prevalent direction of the wind is easterly. These winds, which travel from over the Bay of Bengal, carry moisture and return rains to this part of the country. Once the monsoon departs, the predominant direction of winds changes to northwesterly.
High-speed winds are very efficient at disbanding pollutants, but winters bring a dip in wind speed overall as compared to summers. The compound of these meteorological factors makes the region prone to pollution. When constituents such as farm fires and dust blows are added to the already high base pollution levels in the city, air quality dips further.
During the lockdown, the pollution level in cities across the country drastically slowed down just within a few days. Amongst these cities, Delhi also saw the cleanest air since comprehensive records have been kept since 2015.
However, now, several factors might even worse the air quality such as temperature dipping, farmers burning crop to clear the fields, low wind speed, vehicular and industrial pollution, festive fireworks as Diwali is also around the corner. They might contribute to what doctors say a “deadly cocktail of poisonous gases”.