NEW DELHI: Delhi’s particulate matter (PM) levels improved slightly on Saturday, November 13, 2021, after remaining in the emergency zone for 36 hours till noon. Though out of emergency, air quality is likely to remain in ‘severe’ category at least over the next five days, warned government agencies.
While the sub-committee on the Graded Response Action Plan met again on Saturday to review air quality, it did not suggest any additional measures except asking concerned states to be in “readiness” to implement emergency measures.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday in a meeting with cabinet ministers on pollution levels staying in severe category announced a host of measures listed under the ‘emergency’ category including shutting down of schools for a week, banning construction activity and shifting government departments to work from home mode.
As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), Delhi’s overall air quality index (AQI) was 437, slightly better than 471, the previous day — the highest spike of the season. According to officials in the India Meteorological Department (IMD), while local level winds are still slow, the long range transport winds that bring smoke from farm fires in neighbouring states have slowed down, and hence the intrusion of fumes to Delhi’s overall pollution was lesser, leading to a slight improvement.
“The local surface winds are still blowing at 4-8kmph, too low for allowing any dispersion. It is just that the transport winds bringing the smoke have slowed down, and hence the additional emission load is lesser. The pollution build-up since the post-Diwali day is still to be dispersed, which is keeping the air quality in ‘severe’ zone,” said a senior IMD official, who didn’t wish to be named.
The official added that by the second week of November, at least two Western Disturbances occur usually that help in dispersion of accumulated pollutants, but this season there has not been a single such occurrence. “It is unusual that there has been no system so far that would have helped dispersion, which is why the next five days at least pollution may remain in severe zone,” he said.