NEW DELHI: The overall air quality in the city remained in the “very poor” category with a reading of 358 on Sunday, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. On Sunday, Anand Vihar (AQI 449) was the most polluted place in the capital, followed by Vivek Vihar (402).
However, there was a slight improvement in the air quality as compared to the previous day when the AQI was about to reach the ‘severe’ zone. The 24-hour average AQI on Saturday was 397, the worst since January. It was 354 on Thursday, 271 on Wednesday, 302 on Tuesday and 312 on Monday. The pollution monitoring agencies cited a huge jump in stubble burning in neighbouring states, especially from Punjab, as the reason deterioration air quality in the city.
Central air quality panel, SAFAR, predicted the pollution situation in Delhi to remain in the “very poor” zone for the next three days. “Share of stubble burning emissions in Delhi’s PM2.5 is 26% due to favourable winds at transport level blowing from northwest direction. Air quality is likely to remain within the ‘very poor’ zone for the next three days due to the combined effect of transport as well as local weather conditions,” it said.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) on Thursday said the increased incidents of stubble burning in Punjab this year “is a matter of serious concern”. According to The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), Punjab alone reported 1,761 farm fires on Sunday, 1,898 on Saturday, 2,067 on Friday and 1,111 on Thursday.
Experts said that the situation may deteriorate further as less than 50% of the sown area in Punjab had been harvested, according to Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). “Next ten days are crucial as the harvesting season will be at its peak,” said Dr Ravindra Khaiwal, professor of environmental studies, at PGI Chandigarh.
With pollution levels worsening, the air quality panel on Saturday directed authorities to impose a ban on construction and demolition activities in Delhi-NCR, except in essential projects, and other curbs under stage III of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
Environment Minister Gopal Rai said Anand Vihar and Vivek Vihar reporting high pollution levels continuously which could be due to construction work related to Regional Rapid Transit System.
“Therefore, we have directed the user agency to strictly follow the dust pollution control norms. The government has deployed 15 anti-smog guns in those areas in addition to seven water sprinklers of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi,” he said.
Fire Services starts sprinkling water at 13 hotspots
The Delhi Fire Services on Sunday said it has begun sprinkling water at 13 hotspots to combat rising air pollution in the city. Forecasters said slow wind speed and an increase in stubble burning, especially in Punjab, may make it worse. Officials said a fire tender with a four-member crew has been deployed at each spot to sprinkle water to curb pollution in the national capital.