Delhi sees ‘severe’ air quality again, though visibility improves

New Delhi, Nov 7 (IANS) The national capital continued to suffer from “severe” air quality on Monday, though the smog cover saw some reduction.

System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) showed levels of PM (particulate matter) 2.5 and PM 10 breaching the 500 mark in most locations on Monday afternoon.

According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the average levels of PM 2.5 was around 500 micrograms per cubic metre at all the pollution measuring centres, including Anand Vihar in east Delhi, Punjabi Bagh and Dwarka in the west, R.K. Puram in the south and Mandir Marg in central Delhi.

The US Embassy’s air pollution monitor, which covers the area of Chanakyapuri, showed Air Quality Index at 551, categorized as hazardous.

Values above 500 are considered beyond the Air Quality Index (AQI).

The US Embassy website issued an alert saying people could experience serious health effects due to the pollution.

On Monday, visibility improved from 200 metres on Sunday to 400 metres on Monday.

“Visibility at 8.30 a.m. was 400 metres at Safdarjung area,” an official from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) told IANS.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made an appeal saying it was time for the central and state governments to work together.

“Very important that central government and state governments work together. Delhi is willing to do whatever required and cooperate in every endeavour,” he tweeted.

Delhi government intensified efforts to sprinkle water on city roads to curb pollution due to dust. The government has ordered schools remain closed for three days and stopped all construction and demolition activities till Friday.

Lt Governor Najeeb Jung has also called a meeting on Monday with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Public Works Department Minister Satyendar Jain, Environment Minister Imran Hussain, three municipal commissioners and other stakeholders on the issue.

Private weather forecaster, Skymet, said the air quality is expected to improve from Tuesday onward as strong winds of 15-20 kmph are expected from the northwest which would help in fast dispersal of pollutants in the air.

The Delhi government on Sunday unveiled a slew of steps to battle unprecedented smog levels that drastically cut visibility and turned the national capital into a virtual gas chamber.

Coal-based thermal power plant at Badarpur in south Delhi, which generates fly ash, was ordered to shut for 10 days.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal maintained that this was a larger problem involving neighbouring states, where farmers are burning crop stubble in a wide area, and sought the central government’s intervention.