Strong surface winds could improve Delhi’s air quality index to “poor” from the current “very poor” category next week, PTI reported on Thursday, citing authorities.

The real-time data available on System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or Safar, showed that Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index stood at 332 at 8 pm on Thursday.

“The air quality is likely to improve significantly from November 21 owing to relatively strong winds and reaching a poor category,” the central government’s Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi said. “PM2.5 to be the predominant pollutant.”

Safar stated that 773 farm fires in neighbouring regions accounted for 2% of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution on Thursday. It added that stubble burning at farms causes negligible pollution because the transport-level winds from the east are preventing pollutants from mixing in the air.

Earlier on Thursday, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai cited a study from the Indian Institute of Tropical Management which stated that external sources contributed to 69% of the pollution in the national capital between October 24 and November 8.

He requested Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav to call a joint meeting for preparing a plan to curb air pollution in the National Capital Region.

On Wednesday, the Delhi government had banned construction and demolition activities in the city till Sunday. Trucks from other states carrying non-essential items will not be allowed to enter the city for the next three days.

Schools will also remain closed till Sunday, while government employees have been asked to work from their homes.

Cleaning of Yamuna

Meanwhile, the Delhi government on Thursday said it has prepared a six-point plan to bring the Yamuna river water to bathing standards by February 2025, PTI reported.

Toxic foam has been floating on the surface of the Yamuna river since the beginning of November. The foam is formed due to waste water with high phosphate content reaching the river through drains. When the water falls from a height, the turbulence activates the chemical which forms the froth.

Here is what the government plans to do to cleanse the chemical from the river:

  • New sewage treatment plants will be built. Along with the existing ones, they will be able to treat up to 800 million gallons of waste water a day.
  • Industries that discharge waste into the Yamuna will be shut.
  • The ‘jhuggi jhopri’ (slums) clusters will be connected to the sewer network. Currently, the waste water from these areas flow into the Yamuna river.
  • The government will provide household sewage connections in areas that have a sewer network. Earlier, the consumers had to get the connections themselves.
  • The city’s sewer network will be de-silted.