Toxic air: Delhi-NCR AQI ‘severe’; govt says ‘no quick recovery’

Along with bad air, there’s bad news for residents of Delhi-NCR, the Ministry of Earth Sciences informed that overall AQI in the region has deteriorated to ‘severe’ category on Saturday morning and there is “no quick recovery” in sight unless “a drastic reduction of stubble fire counts takes place”.

Delhi’s Air Quality Index was 405, while that of Ghaziabad was 432; Greater Noida 418; Millennium City Gurugram 411, Noida 404 and Faridabad a 410.

SAFAR has synergized stubble fire counts over Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and neighbouring areas which increased and stood at 4,528 as on Friday — the highest this season.

“Despite moderate day time dispersion condition, air quality has declined, owing to sustained unusually high fire emissions. Surface winds have become calm today morning and pollutants are accumulating near the surface,” said the ministry in a statement on Saturday.

The boundary layer wind direction is Northwesterly, and favourable for the fire-related intrusion to Delhi-NCR region, stubble burning share in PM 2.5 in Delhi’s air is estimated at 32 per cent for Saturday, said the ministry. However surface winds are forecast to decrease on Sunday and Monday.

“No quick recovery is expected unless a drastic reduction in fire counts takes place. Air quality is forecast to stay at the ‘Severe’ to the higher end of ‘Very Poor’ category for the next two days.

“In summary, fire-related emission is impacting air quality of the entire Indo Gangetic Plains, approaching winter making conditions hard for efficient dispersion of pollutants,” added the Ministry.

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) air lab, which was installed a few days ago to monitor the pollution levels across the Millennium City, have identified 18 most polluted locations on Friday.

These 18 places are: Sector 14, Sector 18, Sector 30, Sector 32, Sector 42, Sector 44, Sector 47, Sector 51, Atlas Chowk, Shankar Chowk, Huda City Centre, Teri Retreat, Teri Gram, Manesar, Vikas Sadarn, DLF Belvedere Towers, Vatika Chowk and Gwal Pahari.

With the pollution level deteriorating, an alert was issued a few days ago by the Gurugram administration for Covid patients, children and senior citizens asking them to stay indoors.

In western India, in Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad, the situation is fairly better. The air quality of Pune is the higher end of the Satisfactory category and Mumbai, and Ahmedabad is in the Moderate category.

Pune AQI is likely to marginally deteriorate and stay in the Moderate for the next three days. Mumbai and Ahmedabad AQI is forecast to stay in the Moderate to Poor category for the next three days.

The health officials in Delhi-NCR have claimed that due to worsening air quality, the number of patients with eye infections and other ailments have increased.

The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) of Gurugram has been in force since October 15. A team of the MCG has levied a fine of Rs 29 lakh on the violators, but it has had little effect.