Delhi’s air quality deteriorated further on Tuesday and remained one notch short of the ‘severe’ category (AQI 401), the worst for this season so far.
The Air Quality Index on Tuesday was recorded at 400, ‘very poor’ category, at 4 p.m., which is the average of the past 24 hours, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The air quality has worsened since Monday, when it was at 368, mainly due to stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana. The stubble fire counts in the two States have increased from 1,654 to 2,577 during the past 24 hours after a noticeable dip on Sunday, said the government-run SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research).
The contribution of crop residue burning in neighbouring States to the air pollution in Delhi was 25% on Tuesday and is expected to increase to 29% on Wednesday, which will be the season’s highest, said SAFAR.
An increase in the boundary layer wind speed is expected to improve the air quality by November 1.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal requested the Punjab and Haryana governments to take action against stubble burning. “On behalf of Delhi’s residents, I appeal to the governments of Punjab and Haryana with folded hands to take some concrete steps immediately and save Delhi from becoming a gas chamber,” he said in a tweet.
At 8.30 p.m. on Tuesday, Delhi’s AQI was 417, in the ‘severe’ category, according to CPCB. Anand Vihar and Wazirpur remained the most polluted areas with AQI at 469 and 454 respectively.
The visibility levels also dropped with smog shrouding the city.
“Since Deepavali, smog has started to build up due to which visibility has decreased. Emergency action to control pollution, and not to contribute to it, should be taken,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of ‘clean air’ programme at the Centre for Science and Environment, Delhi.
“The peak pollution on Deepavali night was chiefly due to firecrackers, and now local pollutants are getting trapped and the mixing height [height at which pollutants are spread out in the atmosphere] has also reduced,” she said.
The Delhi government on Tuesday attacked Haryana and Punjab for the air pollution in the city. “Latest NASA images show a drastic spurt in crop residue burnings in the neighbouring States, which has severely affected Delhi’s air quality,” an official statement said.