After a spell of relatively cleaner air thanks to rain and wind earlier this month, Delhi woke up to severe pollution on Thursday, with the concentration of particulate matter reaching toxic levels. A foggy morning also led to several train delays and cancellations, with reports of at least 15 trains being cancelled, 30 delayed and 11 rescheduled in several parts of northern India.
The Met department said that visibility fell to 400 metres in the morning in the Capital but there were no delays due to weather at the airport. The air quality index for Delhi, Ghaziabad and Noida were in the ‘severe’ category with values of 469, 500 and 500 respectively at 4 p.m., according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
Delhi’s AQI had been in the ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ category for about a month now, after a spell of smog in November.
Gurugram and Faridabad recorded AQIs of 346 and 358 — both in the ‘very poor’ category.
Taking action based on the air quality on Thursday, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority issued warnings to the NCR State governments to prepare for emergency measures.
In letters to the Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan governments, EPCA Chairperson Bhure Lal said the level of both PM2.5 and PM10 were in the ‘severe+’ zone. He said the EPCA would monitor the situation for the next 48 hours and advised the States to take precautionary steps in the meantime.