Delhi’s air quality was recorded in the “poor” category on Sunday, with the index value being 223, according to the Central Pollution Control Board at noon. Another government agency, System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research, or SAFAR, said the air quality is likely to improve slightly in the coming days due to a change in the wind direction, PTI reported.

On Saturday, the 24-hour average Air Quality Index stood at 221, which falls in the poor category. An AQI between 0 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’. SAFAR predicted that the AQI will enter the “moderate” category by Monday.

SAFAR said air quality in Delhi could dip on Sunday due to farm fires in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. However, the wind direction will change to easterly and the impact of farm fires will reduce on Monday, it added.

According to an analysis by think-tank Council on Energy, Environment and Water, transportation contributes the most to Delhi’s pollution, around 18% to 39%. Road dust is the second largest source of air pollution in the city (18% to 38%), followed by industries (2% to 29%), thermal power plants (3% to 11%) and construction activities (8%).

To tackle the problem, the Delhi government has launched an anti-air pollution campaign. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said he will review the situation every day. Environment Minister Gopal Rai
will set up a war room at the Delhi Secretariat to monitor the steps taken to tackle the pollution problem.

From October 15, the Delhi government will enforce stricter measures to control air pollution as part of its Graded Response Action Plan, first started in 2017. The measures include increasing the number of buses and metros, stopping use of diesel generators and hiking parking fees.

The Graded Response Action Plan also recommends sprinkling water on roads, frequent cleaning of roads, maximising the use of natural gas for power generation and shutting down stone crushers, brick kilns and hot mix plants when the air quality enters the extreme category.

On October 6, the Supreme Court said it will look into suggestions of withholding a portion of Minimum Support Price from farmers till it is confirmed that they are not indulging in stubble burning. The court was hearing a public interest litigation on air pollution in Delhi-NCR. The court also issued notices to the Ministry of Environment and Forests as well as the governments of Punjab, Haryana and Delhi in the matter.

On September 29, the Centre had called a meeting with the environment ministers of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi on October 1 to review the air pollution management plans decided in 2016.

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