NEW DELHI: Delhi’s air quality expectedly crossed the “hazardous” mark on Diwali evening and the morning after with PM2.5 pollution levels shooting to 774.69 at 3am on Friday. The average AQI for the city touched an alarming 1645 around 1am.
The pollution levels remained well above the hazardous mark across the city, with Nehru Stadium (1103), Okhla (1100) and ITO (948) recording some of the worst PM2.5 levels.
A plot of last evening’s AQI for the city shows a steady rise in pollution levels post 6pm, consistent with celebrations with firecrackers as has been reported. The levels dipped gradually after 1am, but still remained well above the hazardous levels, and was around 1053 at 5am.

People from several parts of the city and its suburbs complained of itchy throat and watery eyes resulting from the polluted air.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board’s data, the national capital’s 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) stood at 661 at 6am on Friday, up from 382 on Thursday. It was 314 on Wednesday, 303 on Tuesday and 281 on Monday.

An AQI between zero 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’.
The authorities had predicted that pollution levels would shoot up in Delhi with the share of stubble burning in the national capital’s pollution rising to 25 per cent on the day of Diwali itself. It was the highest of the year.
That, along with people celebrating the festival, contributed to the national capital’s poorest day of the year in terms of air quality.
Besides Delhi, the air quality in adjoining areas like Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurugram also breached the severe mark. AQI of Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurugram stood at 956, 729 and 737 respectively at 6am.

Stubble burning makes matter worse
According to SAFAR model forecasts, the stubble burning share is likely increase to 35 per cent on Friday and 40 per cent on Saturday with the wind direction changing to northwesterly. This could keep pollution levels above the dangerous levels.
Northwesterly winds carry smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana towards the national capital.
“Relief is expected only from the evening of November 7 but AQI will fluctuate within ‘very poor’ range,” the air quality forecast agency had said.
A 2020 report by Swiss organisation IQAir found 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities were in India, with Delhi ranked the most polluted capital globally.
The same year, the Lancet said 1.67 million deaths were attributable to air pollution in India in 2019, including almost 17,500 in the capital.
(With inputs from agencies)


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