Air quality in the capital entered the poor category on Friday (11 October) with an overall AQI score of 208 and increased incidents of stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana in the last 24 hours are likely to further deteriorate the air quality to the very poor category in the next two days.
As per the forecast by Safar, air quality in Delhi was poor with a count of 93 in the PM 2.5 and moderate in the PM 10 calculation. It cited the low wind speed and westerly wind direction as being unfavourable for air quality.
In its short range forecast, Safar said that the overall air quality of Delhi has entered the poor category for the first time since the monsoon. The biomass fire counts in Punjab and Haryana have significantly increased during the past 24 hours, and such magnitude will now start to influence Delhi's air quality, it said.
Experts say that increase in fire incidents in neighbouring states and winds will carry the smoke to the capital in the coming days.
"The fire counts in Punjab and Haryana have increased significantly over the last two days. The wind direction in Delhi is westerly which is unfavourable thereby carrying the smoke from the stubble burning towards Delhi. Delhi will probably encounter poor air quality in the coming days due to the prevailing wind direction and the stubble burning," said Kurinji L.S., Research Analyst, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW).
"Though we have an advance warning system in place, we lack preparedness for controlling activities within Delhi that cause pollution," he added.
In its forecast for coming days, Safar said that air quality is predicted to deteriorate for Saturday but stay in the poor category. There is, however, more bad news in store for the coming days.
"Further air quality is predicted to deteriorate to the lower end of very poor category for the next two days thereafter", it said. The late monsoon withdrawal is not good for air quality in North India as the time progresses towards winter, Safar said in the forecast.
In its bulletin, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) also corroborated that the air quality will be in the moderate to poor category on Friday. The air quality is likely to deteriorate marginally on Saturday and likely to remain in low end of poor category while on Sunday, it will be poor.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had announced last week that 46 teams of CPCB are taking stock of pollution levels in Delhi-NCR and will take appropriate action, wherever needed.
Javadekar had in detail listed several steps taken by the Centre to tackle pollution in Delhi-NCR which had resulted in good air days increasing in the capital.
The worsening air quality in this season is likely to become a political slugfest with Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal having made announcements taking credit for the improvement in Delhi's air before the winter season sets in.
(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)
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