Delhi Pollution: The national capital of Delhi has been enveloped by a thick layer of dust for the last five days. The city, which saw an acute air pollution crisis in winters last year, is in for quite a surprise as it has been hit by polluted summers – a time considered as off season here as far as poor air quality is concerned. The air quality in most areas of the city has stayed under ‘severe’ mark, the worst category in the pollution index.
However, an Indian Express report, citing a 2015 IIT Kanpur study, says that the capital’s air is almost as toxic in the summer. The IIT-K study has found that summer average for PM10 in Delhi is above 500 µg/m — five times the national average.
However, the current dust cloud is said to have been due to a dust storm that began over Rajasthan and was carried by strong westerly winds. The duststorm had hit the states of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and western Uttar Pradesh. The duststorm resulted in pushing the local air down and preventing outside air from entering the region.
Besides soil, sand and rock particles, windblown dust also contains “re-suspended” dust kicked up by vehicles, digging or construction, The Indian Express reports. It hosts toxic materials, including heavy metals such as lead, chromium and nickel, says an IIT Delhi study
Experts suggest that incidents may become more common in future. Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment told The Indian Express that duststorm was different in scale and impact this year. “All of North India was enveloped, and this is something we need to prepare for in the future,” she said.
A senior official in the Delhi Environment Ministry that the absence of a longterm action plan to stop or reverse the process would result in a worse scenario. “These climatic conditions can’t any longer be seen in isolation, we need to start preparing for this to become the new normal,” the official told IE.
A smog had created an emergency-like situation Delhi last year, forcing the government to order holidays in school and public institutions.