Delhi’s air quality index fell to the “severe” category on Wednesday morning, with a reading of 401 at 6 am and 11 am, according to the Central Pollution Control Board. The prominent pollutants was particulate matter, both PM 2.5 and PM 10.
Delhi also registered a below-normal minimum temperature on Wednesday, Hindustan Times reported. The Safdarjung observatory recorded the minimum temperature at 6.7 degrees Celsius, which is nearly four degrees below the season’s normal.
The air quality index value at Noida’s Sector-1 at 1 pm was also severe, at 400. At Gurugram’s Vikas Sadan, the AQI stood at 324, which falls in the “very poor” category. According to the CPCB’s AQI, any reading above 100 on a scale of 500 is progressively unsafe for health.
Delhi’s 24-hour average air quality index at 4 pm on Tuesday was also in the “very poor” category, with a value of 379.
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Apart from the deteriorating air quality and the cold weather, Delhi’s is also battling a surge in coronavirus cases. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, at a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, had said that the Capital’s third wave of coronavirus cases had been severe due to air pollution and other factors.
Kejriwal had requested the prime minister to intervene and stop stubble burning in Delhi’s neighbouring states.
Amid the surge in cases, the Delhi government began reinstating coronavirus-related restrictions last week, starting with revising the limit on wedding guests from 200 to 50. The Kejriwal-led government also increased the fine for not wearing masks in the Capital to Rs 2,000 from Rs 500 to tackle the pandemic.
Delhi’s air pollution typically worsens in October and November due to farmers burning stubble in neighbouring states, unfavourable wind speed and local emission of traffic fumes in the city. Firecrackers over Diwali and festival season add to the problem.
Pollution in the city had almost disappeared earlier this year, when the Centre imposed a countrywide lockdown to contain the coronavirus but has returned since the government began lifting restrictions at the end of August.