Air pollution in Delhi hit the ‘severe’ category on Wednesday, with an Air Quality Index of 419, the season’s highest. Government agencies attributed the spike to stubble burning in neighbouring States.
The contribution of stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana to Delhi’s air pollution was 35% on Wednesday, which is the highest this season, said government-run monitoring agency SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research).
“The overall air quality of Delhi after recovering from firecrackers’ smoke has again plunged to severe since wee hours of today [Wednesday], purely attributed to stubble fire which has touched the season’s highest share of 35% today,” it said.
“Last night’s [Wednesday] extremely calm surface wind conditions further aggravated the situation by accumulation of pollutants,” the forecasting agency added.
The AQI on Wednesday was 419 at 4 p.m., which is the average of the past 24 hours, up from 400 on Tuesday and 368 on Monday, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
The air quality, however, is expected to improve from Friday. Effective stubble fire counts in Haryana and Punjab have significantly declined to 1,057 during the past 24 hours, compared with 2,577 in the 24 hours prior to it.
The Delhi government has identified five locations — Wazirpur, Anand Vihar, Ashok Vihar, Vivek Vihar and Bawana — which have been critically polluted in the last two days. Acting on the directions of Chief Secretary Vijay Dev, different government agencies have intensified pollution control measures in these areas.
“The DPCC [Delhi Pollution Control Committee] has deployed 16 night patrolling teams to impose environmental compensation on agencies, units for construction and demolition waste, garbage burning, and dumping,” an official statement said. SAFAR also advised people to avoid all outdoor physical activities, give morning walks a miss, and keep all windows closed. “Stop any activity if you experience unusual coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing, or fatigue and consult a doctor,” its advisory said.