Wind Brings Down Delhi Pollution, But Air Quality Still In ‘Severe’ Category
People ride a motorcycle along a road shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. (Photographer: Anindito Mukherjee/Bloomberg)

Wind Brings Down Delhi Pollution, But Air Quality Still In ‘Severe’ Category

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Pollution levels in Delhi and the National Capital Region dropped marginally with a slight increase in the wind speed, a day after the capital recorded its worst air quality.

Authorities have declared a public health emergency in Delhi-NCR, shut schools and banned all construction activities till Tuesday, Nov. 5.

As of 10:00 am Saturday, Delhi’s air quality index stood at 407, as against 484 recorded at 4 pm on Friday, according to official data. In Delhi-NCR, Ghaziabad and Greater Noida recorded AQIs of 459 and 452, respectively, at 10 am on Saturday. On Friday, they had an AQI of 496 at 4:00 pm, the Central Pollution Control Board said.

Weather experts said there is a significant improvement in wind speed and it will increase gradually. Winds gusting up to 20-25 kilometres per hour are likely in the region from Sunday to Tuesday, they said.

Scattered rainfall in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi is likely on Nov. 7 and Nov. 8 under the influence of Cyclone Maha and a fresh western disturbance, the weather office said.

This rainfall, however light, will be significant in terms of reducing the effect of crop stubble burning, and will wash away pollutants, they said.

On Friday, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a public health emergency, following which the Delhi government decided to shut all schools.

The EPCA also banned construction activities in Delhi-NCR till Nov. 5. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed Delhi a "gas chamber" and blamed crop stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana for the apocalyptic haze shrouding the city.

The share of crop stubble burning in Delhi's pollution stood at 46 percent on Friday, the highest so far, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR. The AQI entered the "severe plus", or "emergency", category late Thursday night in Delhi, the first time since January this year.

Also read: Toxic Air in India Declared Public Health Emergency

An AQI between 0-50 is considered "good", 51-100 "satisfactory", 101-200 "moderate", 201-300 "poor", 301-400 "very poor" and 401-500 "severe". Above 500 falls in the "severe plus", or “emergency”, category.

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