Pollution levels in parts of Delhi and the national capital dropped on Saturday morning following a slight increase in wind speeds. Overall air pollution levels remain “severe”, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) measuring 407 at 10 am, as per data released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
In more good news for struggling residents of the city-state, weather forecasts call for gusts of wind reaching 25 kilometers per hour between Sunday and Tuesday. According to news agency PTI, scattered rainfall is also expected in Punjab and Haryana, which will help in reducing the polluting spread and effect of stubble burning by farmers in those states.
On Friday the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) declared a public health emergency across the National Capital Region after pollution levels entered into the “emergency” category for the first time since January. A reading at 4 pm on Friday showed an overall AQI of 496.
The agency had advised people to refrain from exercising in the open until further notice and encouraged the wearing of breathing masks when venturing outdoors. It also shut down all construction activity till Tuesday and banned the bursting of firecrackers during the winter.
In addition, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal also directed all schools to be shut till Tuesday and confirmed the “odd-even” scheme would come into effect from Monday.
Delhi air quality has plummeted post-Diwali, which Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said was the “lowest in five years”. According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), Delhi recorded an AQI of 412 on Friday morning, which fell in the “very severe” category.
Mr Kejriwal, who blamed the governments of Haryana and Punjab for “forcing farmers to burn stubble” that led to the problem, has described the city as a “gas chamber”.
Data from SAFAR shows that stubble burning in those two states contributed 46 percent of the haze and air pollution in Delhi-NCR on Friday alone; the highest so far this year.