It’s again that time of the year when the air quality in the National Capital turns toxic. However, this year it seems to be better.
Even as the air is worsening, government officials say the condition is better than last year. “Air pollution levels in Delhi, though fall in ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ category these days, they have been better than that in the same period last year. This is mainly because favourable meteorological conditions,” said a senior scientist with the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
Poor air quality
However, experts warn, as Delhi’s air quality levels dip low, the pollution crisis is only going to worsen. According to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) that has been put in place by the state government, levels of PM 10 on October 22 was 280 and PM 2.5 level stood at 134.
Going by System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) parameters laid down by Ministry of Earth Science, the air quality swinged between ‘poor,’ to ‘very poor.’
The factors like relatively late withdrawal of monsoon this year and not having dust storms like last year have also helped, he said. However, he feared things would worsen in the days to come as there is a probability of stronger winds that would bring in aerosols from crop residue burning in neighbouring States of Punjab and Haryana where farmers are preparing fields for winter crop following the kharif harvest.
On October 20, when average PM 10 levels were hovering at 352 and PM 2.5 levels at 186 respectively, it was the highest Delhi has seen pre-winter this year. Experts argue that while GRAP only shows average figures, PM 2.5 levels in areas like Anand Vihar had soared to 871, three days back.
“Every day, the pollution levels are crossing 700, ranging from poor to very poor — it is touching, ‘severe,’ for many colonies every day like Anand Vihar, Rohini, RK Puram and Jahangirpuri,” said Vimlendu Jha, a Delhi-based Environmentalist.
Apart from stubble burning, Jha said that internal issues in Delhi are exacerbating the situation. “If it was just stubble burning, the pollution levels would have been equally worse in all areas. But in some areas, pollution levels are spiking. For example, Patparganj has its own share of industries, the Bhalaswa landfill is on fire for days, Anand Vihar suffers from traffic congestion, and there is intense construction activity in Jahangirpuri,” Jha said.
In another week or ten days, as the temperatures drop owing to the onset of winter and firecrackers go off for Diwali, the pollution situation is likely to worsen, he added.