Light rains lash Delhi-NCR, provide temporary respite from air pollution

Clay Curtis
November 16, 2020

In a special report, the Central Pollution Control Board said that nearly all pollutants reported higher values on Diwali day this year as compared to 2019. PM10 levels below 100 g/m3 are considered safe in India.

Cities in the states of Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and New Delhi - which have already been suffering from some of the worst air in the world - saw even higher levels of pollution than on the morning after Diwali previous year, government data analyzed by Reuters showed. However, it had said that even a small increase in local additional emissions is likely to have "a significant deterioration impact on Sunday and Monday".

The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (323), Ghaziabad (412), Noida (362), Greater Noida (350), and Gurgaon (338), which fall in the National Capital Region (NCR), also recorded their AQI in the "very poor" and severe categories.

It was 331 microgram per cubic metre (µg/m3) in Delhi-NCR at 10 pm, above the emergency threshold of 300 µg/m3. The 24-hour average AQI was 339 on Friday and 314 on Thursday.

Delhi recorded a 24-hour average AQI of 337 on Diwali previous year (October 27), and 368 and 400 the next day.

This rain will act as a medicine for those cities of North India, including Delhi NCR, where the air pollution is at the Very Poor category.

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NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel while heading a bench ruled that this order will apply to all cities and towns where the average ambient air quality during the Diwali period was in "poor" or above categories. It deteriorated to 390 the next day and remained in the "severe" category on three consecutive days thereafter.

The areas around ITO were seen covered in heavy smog and the Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 461 here, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data.

Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the India Meteorological Department, said the wind speed will be favourable for dispersion of pollutants on Monday as well. Based on the current weather scenario, we can say that strong wind will not move during the coming 48 to 72 hours, but the possibility of rain during the next 24 hours will clear this pollution to some extent, improving the Air Quality Index.

Head of IMD's environment research centre VK Soni said calm winds, smoke from farm fires and firecrackers emissions may worsen the air quality and push it to the "severe" zone on Diwali night.

"There will be a significant improvement in air quality by November 16", Soni added. The Delhi government and the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had imposed a total ban on the use of firecrackers till November 30 in wake of the rising pollution.

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