AQI slips to ‘very poor’ category

Gurugram and Noida too in same category; cases of stubble burning on the rise

The air quality of Delhi, Gurugram, and Noida, all part of the National Capital Region (NCR), worsened to “very poor” category on Thursday, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data.

This is the first time this season that Delhi’s air quality has plunged to “very poor”. It is expected to remain unchanged on Friday. As per CPCB’s 4 p.m. bulletin on Thursday, which is the average for the past 24 hours, the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi was recorded at 312, Gurugram 311 and Noida 321.

All the values are in the “red” category and can cause “respiratory illness on prolonged exposure”, said CPCB. The AQI of all three cities were in the “poor” category on Wednesday.

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘’good’’, 51 and 100 ‘’satisfactory’’, 101 and 200 ‘’moderate’’, 201 and 300 ‘’poor’’, 301 and 400 ‘’very poor’’, and 401 and 500 ‘’severe’’.

“AQI is likely to stay at the very poor category for tomorrow [Friday]. Marginal improvement is likely on October 17 but in the lower end of the very poor to poor category,” SAFAR said.

An increase in stubble burning fire counts was observed on Wednesday around Haryana, Punjab, and neighboring border regions and as per SAFAR, the fire counts were estimated to be 740. Also, wind direction is partly favorable for transfer of pollutants from these states to Delhi and hence an increase in the contribution of stubble burning to PM2.5, a chief pollutant, in Delhi is expected.

Also, a ban on diesel generators, except for emergency purposes, came into force in Delhi and neighbouring cities from Thursday as part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) measures to control air pollution.

The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) on Thursday wrote to the Haryana government that last year an affidavit was given by the government that all colonies will be connected to power grids before the onset of winter of 2020, but it was not done. The EPCA has also asked for fresh timelines for the same in view of a ban on diesel generators in NCR cities.

The Haryana government had asked for an exemption from the ban.

Rai writes to EPCA

In a related development, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai wrote letters to the EPCA and the CPCB to close 11 power plants outside Delhi, but in the NCR region, within a week. He also urged them to not allow diesel generators in Haryana.

“It feels that the Central government has become the spokesperson of these States [where stubble burning is happening] and is competing with Delhi,” Mr. Rai said at a press meet.

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