Days ahead of Diwali, the air quality in the national capital and adjoining cities has plunged from 'poor' to 'very poor'.
People in Delhi and its neighbouring cities Gurgaon, Noida, Greater Noida, Ghaziabad, and Faridabad woke up this morning to a thick blanket of smog covering the entire region, as the Air Quality Index or AQI plunged to the "very poor" category, with particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter being the primary pollutant.
Delhi's overall Air Quality Index (299) also bordered "very poor" levels. On Tuesday, it stood at 270 at 4 pm.
Seventeen of the 37 air quality monitoring stations in the national capital recorded the overall AQI in the "very poor" category, according to data of the Central Pollution Control Board.
The AQI at Mundka, Dwarka Sector 8, Delhi Technological University, Anand Vihar, Wazirpur, Rohini, Bawana, Ashok Vihar, Nehru Nagar and Jahangirpuri was 368, 362, 355, 328, 323, 323, 320, 319, 319 and 318.
Other areas that experienced very poor air quality included Alipur (314), Narela (312), Vivek Vihar (311), Sirifort (309), CRRI - Mathura Road (304), Okhla Phase 2 (303) and ITO (302).
The neighbouring areas of Ghaziabad (337), Loni Dehat (335), Noida (318) and Greater Noida (308) also recorded a spike in pollution levels.
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.
The Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) had on Tuesday noticed an 'increasing trend" in stubble burning incidents in neighbouring states and predicted that the share of crop residue burning in Delhi's PM2.5 concentration would be around 6 per cent on Wednesday.
The Delhi government had also shared pictures and data from NASA that showed large-scale stubble burning in areas surrounding Delhi.
On Tuesday, Delhi Environment Minister Kailash Gehlot also wrote to Union Minister for Earth Sciences Harsh Vardhan requesting access to SAFAR's data so that the administration could take immediate corrective measures to curb pollution.
From October 15, stringent measures to combat the menace of air pollution has come into force in the national capital and its nearby regions as part of the Graded Response Action Plan.
This plan which was first implemented in Delhi and NCR in 2017 include increasing bus and metro services, hiking parking fees and stopping the use of diesel generator when the air quality turns poor.
Other major cities such as Kolkata, Mumbai, and Chennai, as compared to Delhi, have had much better air quality.
Earlier, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had said that local sources of pollution, including stack emissions, dust, and burning of plastic and rubber waste, were the primary reason for deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR.
(With inputs from PTI and ANI)
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