Home / News / India /  Air quality reaches ‘emergency’ level, decision on odd-even Monday

NEW DELHI : Air quality across the National Capital Region (NCR) on Friday entered the 'emergency' level, breaching the ‘severe’ category again, even as the contribution of stubble burning to PM2.5 recorded a decreasing trend. Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal today said the government will monitor the air quality levels over the weekend and take a final call on the extension of the odd-even scheme on Monday.

The government’s air quality monitoring service -- System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the Air Quality Index (AQI) at 552 for Delhi on Friday noon, which falls in the ‘severe plus’ category. An AQI between ‘400 and 500’ is ‘severe’, while anything beyond ‘500’ is ‘severe plus’ or ‘emergency’.

According to SAFAR forecast for Friday, the stubble contribution to PM 2.5 was estimated to be 3%. According to meteorologists, the decrease in counts could also be due to dense cloudy conditions prevailing in the region, which obscure the satellite view and its ability to detect fire counts.

The air quality in Delhi is not likely to get better anytime soon, as possibility of some isolated showers in the capital during next 24 hours could rather end up worsening the situation. A western disturbance has impacted the western Himalayan region bringing heavy rains over Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and some parts of Punjab.

While Delhi is most likely to witness cloudy conditions, there could be some isolated showers in some areas. "If the rainfall is not enough for washing out the pollutants, the high humidity can worsen the condition by accelerating the secondary aerosol formation," as per SAFAR led by scientists from Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

The only glimmer of hope is the forecast for increase in wind speed for the next three days, which could bring down the AQI to ‘very poor’ by Sunday.

“We are very worried about pollution levels. We want to thank the people of Delhi for following the scheme so far. Based on the predictions we have received, the weather is set to improve in the next few days which will have a favourable impact on the air quality. We will take a final call on its extension on Monday morning," Kejriwal said while addressing a press conference here on Friday.

The Delhi government had implemented the odd-even car rationing scheme as a part of its winter action plan to curb air pollution. Today is the last day of the scheme. Given the ‘severe’ air quality levels despite implementation, the government is contemplating an extension.

“Air quality in Delhi decreases when incidents of stubble burning increase in neighbouring states. There are images that support this from NASA. We are taking steps to ensure that we control emissions within Delhi. Odd even plays a role in that," Kejriwal added.

(Pretika Khanna contributed to the story)

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