Stubble-burning a major cause of Delhi's air pollution

Stubble-burning a major cause of Delhi's air pollution

Thousands of people gasped for breath as a thick blanket of haze enveloped the National Capital and air quality spiralled into the "very poor" category on Sunday.

State-owned System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) which monitors pollution levels has predicted very poor air quality in Delhi in the next week too.

"As per the Air Quality Forecast, the air quality is likely to be in very poor to severe category at various places in Delhi for next two days".

Among the most polluted regions in Delhi were Dwarka, Anand Vihar, Rohini, Mundaka, Bawana, Mathura Raod, Delhi Technical University, Jahangirpuri, Narela, Nehru Nagar, Delhi University North Campus, Punjabi Bagh, R.K. Puram, Sonia Vihar, Vivek Vihar and Wazirpur.

D Saha, former air quality chief at CPCB, said meteorological factors like wind speed, solar direction and temperature are mostly responsible for increasing pollution levels in the city.

Sunday's maximum temperature settled at 32.1 degrees Celsius, while the minimum temperature was recorded at 15.6 degrees Celsius, both the season's average.

Health experts with the task force have also recommended encouraging people to avoid prolonged exposure during the period to avoid health issues.

The reason behind the deterioration has been attributed to localised factors as well as stubble burning from the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

The AQI between 0 to 50 is considered good, 51 and 100 falls under the category of "satisfactory", 101-200 is marked as "moderate", 201 to 300 "poor", 301 to 400 "very poor" and 500 and beyond is considered as "severe".

A Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB-led task force has recommended to the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) stringent measures from November 1 to 10.

Some of the recommendations include shutting down coal and biomass factories, increased inspection by Transport Department to check polluting vehicles and reducing traffic congestion in the NCR. The highest AQI of the season was recorded on Friday at 361. The PM10 level stood at 394 ug/m3, as per CPCB data.

"All the construction activities which produce dust should be stopped across Delhi and National Capital Region (NCR) from November 1 and 10". It also recommended that people go for shorter walks instead of jogs, keep windows closed and wear masks.

The most recent air pollution data from the World Health Organisation released in March this year gave India the dubious distinction of having the world's ten most polluted cities.