Delhi woke up to ‘poor’ air quality for the third consecutive day on Monday morning.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 297 at 8 am, even as the sky remained clear. The respite, however, was temporary. AQI levels rose to 323 an hour later, slipping back into the ‘very poor’ category.
The average AQI in the city stood at 292 on Sunday, and 298 the day before.
Although an AQI value between 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, it comes as a welcome relief from the highly polluted days a week ago. The Capital’s AQI had shot up to as much as 486 on November 9.
The air quality index ranges from 0 to 500, with 500 being the worst-possible air quality.
The India Meteorological Department has predicted a minimum temperature of 11 degrees Celsius and a maximum of 23 degrees Celsius for Monday. The sky is expected to remain clear for the next three days.
It’s not all good news, though. Delhi may be breathing with relative ease, but pollution levels continue to remain intolerable in several cities dotting the Indo-Gangetic plains.
The air quality at several cities across the northern belt – including Agra, Bhiwadi, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Lucknow and Varanasi – persisted at ‘very poor’ levels on Monday morning. Though these cities possess meteorological conditions similar to Delhi, high emission of pollutants from vehicles and industries prevents the situation from getting better.
Dipankar Saha at the CPCB laboratory said the air quality in Delhi is expected to improve in the coming days, with wind speeds picking up. Surface-level winds help disperse particulate matter, a major source of pollution in the capital.
Delhi had dominated the headlines for nearly two weeks since the start of November, with air quality languishing in ‘severe’ levels due to factors such as vehicular pollution, crop burning in neighbouring states and lack of wind. Government and environmental agencies enacted several measures, including shutting down polluting plants and temporarily blocking the entry of heavy vehicles into the Capital, to mitigate the situation.