Delhi Air Pollution: Double trouble! National capital’s air quality set to deteriorate amid COVID19 pandemic

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Updated: September 28, 2020 1:47 PM

Delhi Air Quality Index, Air Pollution: Dip in temperature, the change in wind direction and speed and stubble don't augur well for the air quality of New Delhi.

Delhi air qualityDelhi's air quality had turned poor on Wednesday, the first time since June 29

Delhi Air Quality Index, Air Pollution: People in the national capital breathed a sigh of relief for a few months back when the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) had found out that air pollution level had dipped by 79 per cent. However, as September is coming to an end, the air quality has started getting poorer. While the overall air quality of Delhi is in the “moderate category”, a few factors are likely to influence air quality negatively by the end of the next week, SAFAR-India stated.

The overall Delhi Air Quality Index (AQI) is in the moderate category as forecasted. The AQI has improved marginally due to high ventilation and rainfall in Rajasthan reducing dust intrusion, the Ministry of Earth Science’s air quality monitor System of Air Quality, and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) has stated. However, in its forecast, the SAFAR has said that the late withdrawal of monsoon and the associated high-pressure system and stagnant wind conditions are likely to influence air quality negatively by the end of the next week. Stubble burning fires observed yesterday around Punjab and neighboring border regions, the SAFAR said in a statement. However, the deterioration in AQI is likely to be less as compared to 2019 in the last week of September to the 1st week of October, the SAFAR noted.

Dip in temperature, the change in wind direction and speed and stubble don’t augur well for the air quality of New Delhi. As temperature slides, the accumulation of pollutants tends to rise. This results in the deterioration of Delhi’s air quality. So far, high wind speed has managed to disperse the particulate matter from farm fires in stubble burning and dust from countries northwest of India. However, as the withdrawal of monsoon over Delhi-NCR commences from September 28, “immediate stagnation” of winds could change the air quality scenario from the start of October, as per the Indian Express report.

The worrying factor is that stubble burning has started in Punjab and Haryana. While the Punjab Pollution Control Board reported 60 farm fires in Amritsar and Tarn Taran districts between September 22 and 26, Haryana State Pollution Control Board has recorded 55 farm fires between September 25 and 27.

The SAFAR revealed that in 2019, stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana had contributed to 44 percent of the pollution in Delhi-NCR.

The stubble burning can exacerbate the Coronavirus crisis as the pollutants like particulate matters and toxic gases like Carbon Monoxide and Methane could give rise to severe respiratory problems, which will further worsen the COVID 19 situation, as the Coronavirus also impacts the respiratory tract, Sanjeev Nagpal, an agricultural-cum-environment expert and advisor to the Union and the Punjab governments on the crop residue management, was quoted as saying by PTI.

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