Air quality severe in most of Delhi, Faridabad 25 times polluted

A farmer walks through smoke caused by farming waste set on fire at Palwal in the state of Haryana

The EPCA conducted a meeting to assess how measures to control "very poor" and "severe" air pollution listed under the "Grap" or Graded Response Action Plan are being implemented.

The pollution level in the national capital has deteriorated to alarming levels in the last two weeks.

The report, which analysed the impact of pollutant PM2.5 (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres), showed that highest contribution since October 11 by stubble burning was seen Friday at 36 per cent.

The CPCB recorded the overall Air Quality Index of Delhi at 361 Friday evening, which falls in the "very poor" category, but not very far from the "severe" category. In the NCR, Ghaziabad and Gurugram already recorded "severe" pollution levels, while Noida and Greater Noida breathed "very poor" air.

The task force also gave recommendations to the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority to deal with the deteriorating air quality.




The task force also issued an advisory to the public, asking them to avoid outdoor strenuous activities and minimise use of private vehicles.

These include shut down of coal and biomass factories, intensification of inspection by the transport department to check polluting vehicles and control traffic congestion in Delhi-NCR. An AQI between O and 50 is said to be good, 51 and 100 satisfactory, 101 and 200 moderate, 201 and 300 poor, 301 and 400 very poor and 401 and 500 severe.

Stubble-burning is done by farmers, the resultant smoke takes the form of smog when it reaches Delhi and regions around it leading to a spike in air pollution. The level of PM2.5, tiny particulate matter that can dangerously clog lungs, read 187, more than six times higher than the World Health Organisation considers safe. "The latest data of stubble burning and the AQI has vindicated it", said Kahan Singh Pannu, secretary, agriculture, state nodal officer of the anti-stubble burning campaign.

Environmentalists have also questioned the credibility of the federal government's target to reduce stubble burning by 70 per cent in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana states this year.

It was a misty morning in the national capital on Saturday with the minimum temperature recorded at 15.6 degrees Celsius, while the air quality dipped to "very poor". "Unless there are strong winds in the category of at least 20kmh, this pollution won't go away", said Mr Mahesh Palawat, vice-president of meteorology and climate change at Skymet Weather Services. It also advised people to wear masks as a precaution.

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