Air quality slips to 'very poor' in Delhi and Noida
The air quality in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) degraded to "very poor" on Tuesday. The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi and Noida was recorded at 328 and 333 Tuesday morning, respectively, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). Gurugram recorded an AQI of 140 with its air quality improving from "poor" to "moderate."
- Delhi is among the world's most polluted cities, presenting a major health risk for its nearly 30 million residents.
- Both city and central governments have been repeatedly pulled up by the Supreme Court to implement anti-pollution measures.
- Notably, Delhi's air quality turns hazardous every winter due to industrial and vehicular pollution, stubble burning in neighboring states, among other reasons.
The air quality across NCR ranged from "moderate" to "very poor" Tuesday morning. At 9 am on Tuesday, Anand Vihar, Mundka, and Jahangirpuri recorded a 24-hour average AQI reading of 404, 422, and 404, respectively. An AQI reading between zero to 50 is considered "good," followed by "satisfactory" (51-100), "moderate" (101-200), "poor" (201-300), "very poor" (301-400), and "severe" (401-500).
"The AQI today indicates 'very poor' air quality," said SAFAR on Tuesday. "For the next two days, winds are likely to be low to moderate," it said. "From 16th onwards, air quality is likely to improve due to relatively high wind speeds but still remain within the 'poor' or the 'very poor' category", it said.
The national capital has prohibited the entry of non-essential vehicles, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced Monday. The Delhi government has introduced a Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to combat heavy pollution, intensify crackdown on furnaces, open fires, etc. The government is also focusing on open-air garbage burning. It has introduced an Anti-Dust Campaign to tackle dust pollution within the city.
In November, the average AQI rose to "severe" levels on 11 days, exceeding the 2016 record of ten bad air days. Delhi did not see a single day of "moderate" or better air quality this November. Delhi experienced nine and seven "severe" days in November 2020 and November 2019, respectively. In November 2018 and November 2017, Delhi experienced five and seven "severe" days, respectively.
While schools in Delhi have been ordered shut due to air pollution, the Education Department has made two proposals to the Environment Ministry. The proposal recommends the immediate reopening of schools for Classes VI and above, followed by the resumption of primary classes from December 20. The Commission for Air Quality Management is yet to make a final decision on reopening schools.