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Local emissions and climate push the air into a ‘very poor’ area


While agricultural fires in neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab have been drastically reduced, they contributed only 4% to Delhi’s PM 2.5 levels on Tuesday, according to the Air Quality System and Weather Forecast and Research, the Air quality in the national capital sank even further. very poor area end of air quality index (AQI) on Tuesday.

According to government agencies, it is likely to stay there for the entire week as the wind speed is calming down and wind patterns will change in the coming days.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the AQI on Tuesday was 367, even worse than 318 on Monday, although both are in the very poor category. On a scale of 0 to 500, an AQI value between 300 and 400 is considered very poor, and those above 400 are considered severe.

Air quality continued to deteriorate further Tuesday night, with most of the hot spots sliding into the ‘severe’ zone. At 9 pm, 11 out of 35 monitoring stations recorded severe air quality: Anand Vihar (414), Ashok Vihar (437), Bawana (413), DTU (409), Jahangirpuri (443), Mundka (413) , Nehru Nagar (404). ), Patparganj (410), Punjabi bagh (405), Rohini (414) and Vivek Vihar (425).

The CPCB, which is in charge of implementing the Graduated Response Action Plan (Grap), said it is taking steps to control local pollution levels. “We are monitoring the situation closely. Measures are already being applied in the very poor area. The patrol teams are conducting regular field inspections, ”said a senior CPCB official.

Despite repeated attempts, MM Kutty, chairman of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and adjacent areas, could not be reached for comment.

Scientists from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said the average daytime wind speed dropped to 7-8 km / h from 10-12 km / h on Monday. “Wind speed will slow further from December 4-5 and the direction is likely to change to the east from the current northwest. Whenever there is a change in the pattern, the winds become calm and trap pollutants, ”said Kuldeep Srivastava, head of IMD’s regional weather forecast center.

He said easterly winds are also likely to bring in moisture, which when combined with calm winds allows pollutants to build up. There is also a forecast for shallow fog on December 4-5. “Furthermore, the change in the wind pattern will also lead to an increase in the minimum temperature between December 4 and 7,” said Srivastava.

On Tuesday, the Safdarjung Observatory, the city’s official weather marker, recorded a low temperature of 8.1 degrees Celsius, two levels below normal. The maximum was set at 27.2 degrees Celsius, two levels above normal.

Sagnik Dey, Associate Professor, IIT-Delhi, said: “In October and November, agricultural fires contribute about 25% to the overall pollution in Delhi. In December, we recorded the same level of pollution even without burning stubble due to reduced dispersion of pollutants, ”said Dey.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director of the Center for Science and Environment (CSE), said that currently the only factors at play are weather and local pollutants. “Even though there has been a downward trend in overall pollution levels since 2017, Delhi still has to reduce its PM 2.5 concentrations by at least 60% to mitigate these peak episodes. Furthermore, on-the-ground monitoring of waste burning and emissions from illegal industries must be intensified to have a real impact, ”he said.

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