Delhi chokes as air quality deteriorates further

Delhi chokes as air quality deteriorates further

India's capital was covered in a blanket of choking grey air and pollution on Saturday, with government data showing air quality slumping to "severe" or "very poor" levels in nearly all parts of Delhi.

With more regions now suffering a "severe or severe-plus" air-quality, the top four most polluted regions in Delhi included Jahangirpuri in north Delhi, Mundaka in west Delhi, Dwarka sub-city in south Delhi and Anand Vihar in east Delhi.

The AQI between 0 to 50 is considered good, 51 and 100 falls under the category of "satisfactory", 101-200 is marked as "moderate", 201 to 300 "poor", 301 to 400 "very poor" and 500 and beyond is considered as "severe". On Thursday, air quality remained foul, with the AQI at 331, a slight increase from Wednesday's 328, both in the "very poor" category.

Authorities have attributed the deterioration of air quality to localised factors like construction activities and vehicular pollution as well as regional factors like pollution by stubble burning from neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana.

Meanwhile, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) issued advisory to avoid strenuous outdoor physical activity early morning and after sunset.

In Indian megacities, the premature deaths were 14,800, 10,500, 7,300, 4,800 and 4,800 in Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Chennai respectively.

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According to the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) monitoring station, the major effluent PM2.5 or particles with diameter less than 2.5mm was 1,515 microgrammes per cubic metres at 10 am, which dropped to 1,295 units by 3 pm and 1,290 units by 6 pm in Faridabad.

The rest of the five monitoring stations showed "poor" air quality, which the CPCB says can cause breathing discomfort to most people on prolonged exposure.

It also recommended intensifying efforts of transport department to check polluting vehicles and controlling traffic congestion.

Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain gave the orders after visiting the site as part of steps to check air pollution in the national capital.

"This is owing to stagnation conditions forced by calm winds with low ventilation and moderate stubble injection", according to the SAFAR. "The dominant pollutant of AQ Index is PM2.5 and PM10", the IITM said.

The advisory also urged people to avoid using private vehicles and keep windows and doors that face roads closed.

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