Delhi records season's worst air quality ahead of Diwali

Air pollution Delhi will implement odd-even scheme whenever required says CM Arvind Kejriwal

A residential building shrouded in smog in New Delhi on Tuesday | Altaf Hussain Reuters

Delhi's air quality remained in the severe category for the third consecutive day on Monday, prompting authorities to impose a three-day ban on industrial activities in pollution hotspots and construction work across Delhi-NCR.

According to the SAFAR, the overall air quality over Delhi is "very poor".

Delhi's overall air quality index on Monday was recorded at 434, which falls in the "severe" category, a drastic decline from Sunday's "moderate" level at 171.

"In October and November, there are around 20-25 days when pollution level increases in Delhi due to stubble burning (in neighbouring states)".

Several parts of Delhi faced severe air quality such as in Anand Vihar where the PM 2.5 and PM 10 was 424 and 360 respectively and Siri Fort where it was 436 and 424 respectively.

Pollution levels in New Delhi have hit their worst this year in the past two days - earning a "severe" to "emergency" rating and indicating conditions that can spark a public health crisis. Thirty areas in the city recorded "severe" air quality while it was "very poor" in five areas, it said.

However, as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the AQI oscillated between "very poor" and "severe".

This Christmas also came in midst of the worst December pollution seen since daily air quality indexing began in 2015.

The Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) directed the traffic police to deploy special teams and ensure congestion-free traffic flow, particularly in identified high-traffic corridors. The low wind speed and a drop in mercury prevented the dispersal of particulate matters. The index was 5500 sqm/second Wednesday, the IITM said.

Any further improvement in air quality, however, is not expected till at least two weeks, officials said. "We are making all efforts on our part", he said.

In NCR, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida and Greater Noida recorded "severe" pollution levels while Gurgaon recorded "very poor" air quality, CPCB data showed. On Saturday, the task force had advised against usage of private cars, especially those running on diesel, and asked people, especially those with respiratory ailments, to avoid exposure to this toxic air.

The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said biomass burning is also contributing to the spike in PM2.5 concentration. The odd-even auto scheme, much like last time, will aim to reduce the vehicle footprint on roads in a bid to curb air pollution.

With Delhi's air quality remaining in the "severe" category for the last four days, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the government may reintroduce the "odd-even" auto rationing scheme if the need arises.

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