The Central Pollution Control Board on Monday said Delhi’s air quality has been comparatively better this year than 2017 or 2016. Till August 26, the number of “clean” days has been 118, more than each of the previous two years. The pollution control board defines clean days as those when the air quality index is either “good”, “satisfactory” or “moderate”.

“If we consider the period from January 1 to August 26, then in 2016, there were only 74 days on which air quality can be called ‘clean’,” said V Shukla, who heads the board’s air quality laboratory, according to the Hindustan Times. “In 2017, Delhi witnessed around 113 such days and in 2018, the number of ‘clean’ days shot up to 118.”

“Since January this year, Delhi was enjoying comparatively cleaner air than in 2016 and 2017,” Shukla added. “Only in June did the air quality turn worse than the previous years. That was because of a dust storm in Rajasthan.”

Delhi Chief Secretary Anshu Prakash and Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority Chairperson Bhure Lal on Monday took stock of the situation ahead of winter. An unidentified official in the environment department said they have been asked to implement measures mentioned in the Graded Response Action Plan to keep pollution levels under check this winter.

The Central Pollution Control Board has already sent out teams to identify violations such as open garbage burning and open constructions, which increase pollution, member secretary P Gargava said.

The Capital and other parts of North India have struggled with extremely bad air quality the past two winters. Air pollution by fine particulate matter led to the premature deaths of almost 15,000 people in Delhi in 2016.