Delhi is facing severe air pollution with an average Air Quality Index (AQI) of 464, categorized as ‘severe.’ The city’s visibility dropped significantly due to dense haze and fog. As a result, schools for students in Classes 5 and below were closed for two days.
The pollution spike was primarily caused by local sources within Delhi, exacerbated by calm surface-level winds. Additionally, smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana, with a significant increase in the number of fires this year, has been blowing into Delhi due to a northwesterly wind pattern.
Air Quality Management Steps and Alarming Pollution Levels in India
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) implemented Stage 3 of the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) to curb pollution. This stage includes restrictions such as a ban on private constructions and demolitions, except for non-polluting activities like plumbing and interior decoration.
PM2.5, a harmful pollutant from combustion sources, reached alarming levels, significantly exceeding India’s safe standards. The World Health Organization’s standard for PM2.5 is much lower than India’s, emphasizing the severity of the situation.
Deteriorating Air Quality and Immediate Actions Needed
The worsening air quality led to a visibility drop to 600 meters in Safdarjung and 500 meters in Palam, making travel hazardous. Unfortunately, the situation is expected to deteriorate further due to ongoing farm fires and the approaching Diwali festival, which might exacerbate pollution levels.
Efforts to mitigate the crisis include anti-pollution measures and restrictions, but immediate improvement depends on effective implementation and favorable weather conditions, especially wind patterns. The situation underscores the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address both local and regional sources of pollution in Delhi.