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Business News/ News / India/  After Diwali, Delhi's air quality drops from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’
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After Diwali, Delhi's air quality drops from ‘poor’ to ‘very poor’

According Swiss air quality technology company IQAir, Delhi was the world's most polluted city on Monday

The concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the city has been found to be 20 times the limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation (Photo: PTI)Premium
The concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the city has been found to be 20 times the limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation (Photo: PTI)

The air quality in Delhi on Monday dropped to ‘very poor' on Monday from ‘poor’ on Sunday as the capital was shrouded by a thick layer of smog from the bursting of firecrackers on Diwali, which violated of a Supreme Court order and exacerbated air pollution.

At 1.30 pm, the air quality index in Delhi was at 322, up from 218 at 4 pm the previous day, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). At 1 pm the AQI in Anand Vihar was at 335, RK Puram at 342, Punjabi Bagh at 342, and ITO at 319.

At 5.30 am, the AQI in Delhi clocked at 514 (anything above 320 is considered ‘hazardous’) by Swiss air quality technology company IQAir. According to IQAir, Delhi was the world's most polluted city on Monday. Anand Vihar registered the worse air pollution, with the AQI hitting 969 at 5 am, according to weather agency aqicn.org.

The concentration of PM 2.5 particles in the city has been found to be 20 times the limit prescribed by the World Health Organisation, prompting the city government to order the closure of all primary classes and restrict the entry of trucks.

CPCB's AQI scale categorizes 0-50 as 'good' air quality, 51-100 as 'satisfactory', 101-200 as 'moderate', 201-300 as 'poor', 301-400 as 'very poor', and 401-500 as 'severe'.

According to the System of Air and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), Delhi's air quality is likely to deteriorate further and will hit the ‘severe’ category between Tuesday and Thursday. For the subsequent six days it is expected to remain ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’ because of the anticipated calm predominant surface winds on Tuesday morning. 

Air quality in the national capital has dipped into the ‘severe’ category over the past two weeks but improved following light showers on November 10. The air quality on Sunday morning was the best it has been on Diwali in eight years. However, respite from toxic haze was short-lived. Delhi's pollution levels soared on Diwali night despite a ban on the production, sale, storage and bursting of firecrackers. Air pollution in Delhi usually peaks during 1-15 November because of vehicular and industrial emissions, and stubble-burning in neighbouring states, especially Punjab. Delhi has a large and growing number of vehicles, with over 11 million registered as of 2023. Vehicular emissions are said to be responsible for over 60% of the city's air pollution.

Air pollution has soared in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan, thanks in part to unfavourable meteorological conditions, including a fall in temperature and low wind speeds.

“Implementing techniques such as using crop residue for mulching, animal feed, composting, bioenergy production, mushroom cultivation, and construction material reduces air pollution and benefits agriculture and the environment. Optimizing fertilizer and input use can also reduce agricultural emissions. However, the endeavour is not without its challenges. These include the need to raise awareness among stakeholders, upfront investment costs, and potential yield fluctuations," said Harshal Sonawane, head of sustainability at Nurture.farm, a digital platform that offers farm services.

The Delhi government's 'Diya Jalao, Patakhe Nahi' (light lamps, not firecrackers) campaign to combat post-Diwali pollution proved ineffective. The government also ordered that schools be closed until 18 November. On 7 November the Supreme Court ordered state governments in north India to stop stubble-burning and begin operating the smog tower installed in Delhi.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based policy reporter covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate policies for Mint. Puja reports on farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy and policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP27. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
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Published: 13 Nov 2023, 02:51 PM IST
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