New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality has remained in the “poor” category for five consecutive days and is expected to worsen in the coming days due to adverse meteorological conditions. The city’s average Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 256 at 9 AM on Friday, with several areas reporting “very poor” AQI levels.
The 24-hour average AQI was 256 on Thursday, 243 on Wednesday, and 220 on Tuesday. According to the Centre’s Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, the air quality is likely to deteriorate further and reach the “very poor” category on Saturday.
The AQI scale categorizes air quality from “good” (0-50) to “severe” (401-500).
In an effort to combat vehicular pollution, the Delhi government has initiated a campaign to discourage people from leaving their engines running at traffic signals. A 2019 study by the Central Road Research Institute revealed that this can increase pollution levels by over 9%.
Various studies have shown that on-road vehicular exhaust emissions contribute significantly to PM2.5 emissions in Delhi, ranging from 9% to 38%. Other factors contributing to the city’s poor air quality include decreased temperature, low wind speed, emissions from firecrackers, paddy straw burning, and local sources of pollution.
The Delhi government has identified eight additional pollution hotspots and plans to deploy special teams to monitor and control pollution sources. They are also considering using dust suppressants, such as calcium chloride and polymers, to prevent dust pollution in the city.
The Commission for Air Quality Management, responsible for implementing the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), has directed authorities in the National Capital Region (NCR) to increase parking fees to discourage private transport and enhance the use of CNG or electric buses and metro trains as part of Stage II of GRAP. This action is taken when the AQI in Delhi is expected to turn “very poor”.
To address air pollution during the winter season, the Delhi government recently launched a 15-point action plan, focusing on dust pollution, vehicular emissions, and open burning of garbage.