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Ahead of Diwali, Delhi-NCR turns into gas chamber

In NCR, at 4 a.m, the AQI was 435 in Ghaziabad, 425 in Greater Noida, 433 in Noida, and 421 in Faridabad, with 401 to 500 considered “severe”.



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New Delhi, Nov 5 (IANS) The national capital and the areas around experienced the first smog episode of this season as the city turned into gas chamber two days before Diwali with air quality placed in “emergency” or “beyond-severe” category.

Under severe-plus or emergency category, which impacts even healthy people by letting the particle pollutant into the bloodstream, the normal dust masks fail, and even walks are advisable against. In 2016 and 2017, schools were shut down for a few days under similar conditions.

On Monday, the overnight change in weather condition, change in wind directions and impact of stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana led to higher pollution levels.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was 426 at 4 p.m. The AQI, however, dropped to 435 by 7 a.m on a scale of 0 to 500.

The condition is expected to prevail till Diwali, however, it may improve if no additional emission from firecracker adds to the Delhi’s air, said the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR).

Delhi may also see pollution response measure under “severe-plus” category that include parking fee hike, odd-even vehicle rationing scheme and ban on entry of trucks into Delhi. The measures are imposed by the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) if severe-plus or emergency condition prevails for 48 hours.

“Even if 50 per cent of the total load of toxic firecrackers, as compared to Diwali-2017, is added, the prevailing weather conditions will aggravate the high smoke level and make air quality to persist in severe range for at least up to November 8-9,” said SAFAR.

It added that dispersion of pollutants will not be possible, resulting in increase levels of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution, in case of firecrackers.

On Monday, the air quality of Delhi and most of the NCR fell from moderate on Sunday to severe on Monday. By 11 a.m on Monday, Delhi’s air became severe-plus, which occurs when PM2.5 or PM10, particles with diameter less than 2.5mm and 10mm, are over 300 and 500 microgrammes per cubic meters, respectively.

The safe limit, PM2.5 and PM10 has been under-60 and 100 units, as per national standards. The international standards are 25 units for PM2.5 and 50 units for PM10.

“This is the first smog episode of Delhi for this season. It is supposed to remain for a few days around Diwali. Unlike in 2017 and 2016, the EPCA has already issued directions. However, if severe-plus situation prevails, more restrictions may come in force a day after Diwali,” Shambhavi Shukla, of the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) told IANS.

The average PM2.5 and PM10 across 35 areas of Delhi at 7 p.m were 364 and 504 units, respectively. Across NCR, the same were 358 and 494 units.

In NCR, at 4 a.m, the AQI was 435 in Ghaziabad, 425 in Greater Noida, 433 in Noida, and 421 in Faridabad, with 401 to 500 considered “severe”.

The AQI in Gurugram and Bhiwadi in Rajasthan were very-poor at 325 and 324, respectively, as the polluted air coming from north-western regions got trapped in Delhi’s high moisture air.

“Till Sunday evening, Delhi received moist easterly winds which helped in improving the air quality for the time being, but as they stopped and changed into cold north-westerly winds bringing smoke from Punjab and Haryana, the pollutants, both local and from stubble, got trapped,” Mahesh Palwat, Director of private weather forecast agency Skymet, said.


Himachal Pradesh : Three houses gutted in fire in Mandi



Maharashtra fire

Himachal Pradesh, Jan 23 : As many as three houses were gutted in a massive fire at Mandi district in Chhatri market area on Wednesday.

A major fire broke out in Chhatri market area of Mandi district. Fire tenders are present at the spot.

Fire fighting operation is underway. No injuries or casualties have been reported yet.

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Road links in Himachal hampered after snowfall; hundreds stranded



Himachal Pradesh snowfall

Shimla, Jan 23: Road links in Himachal Pradesh on Wednesday were hampered a day after widespread snow and rain, blocking highways and link roads, while hundreds of commuters were stranded across the state, officials said here.

Snow hit vehicular movement beyond Shimla town, while traffic on the Pathankot-Chamba highway was also badly hit. The entire Kinnaur district is cut off. However, there was no loss of life.

After two consecutive days of snow, most of the roads in the state interiors remained closed to traffic, stranding travellers and commuters.

Road links to Kinnaur district and towns in Shimla district such as Narkanda, Jubbal, Kharapathar, Rohru and Chopal were cut off, a government official told IANS.

While picturesque tourist town Manali recorded 30 cm of snowfall, it was 39.6 cm in Kalpa and 30 cm in Manali. Dharamsala had 53 mm of rainfall.

“There is no movement of traffic towards Kinnaur district on the national highway five beyond Tapri. Work is on to restore electricity in Kinnaur. The Pangi valley in Chamba district is also cut off from the rest of the state,” an official said.

State capital Shimla saw 44.5 cm of snowfall and a low of zero degree.

The higher reaches of Kullu, Mandi, Kinnaur, Shimla, Sirmaur and Lahaul-Spiti districts have been experiencing snow.

Keylong town in Lahaul-Spiti district saw over three feet of snowfall.

Officials said bad weather has affected the road network in the higher reaches of Kinnaur, Shimla, Chamba, Kullu and Sirmaur districts and efforts were being made to reopen the roads.

There are chances of moderate snow in the state till Thursday, an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official told IANS.

The government has advised people not to venture to the high hills of Kullu, Shimla and Kinnaur districts owing to avalanche threat.

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Cloudy Delhi morning, 25 trains delayed



cloudy morning delhi

New Delhi, Jan 23: It was a cold and cloudy morning in the national capital on Wednesday with the minimum temperature recorded at 8 degrees Celsius, the Met said. At least 25 Delhi-bound trains were delayed due to dense fog in several parts of northern India.

“The sky will remain partly cloudy throughout the day with chances of light rain or thundershowers,” an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.

A fog cover delayed 25 trains heading here by two to six hours.

The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 per cent. Visibility in Safdarjung area at 8.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 metres while in the Palam area the visibility at 7.30 a.m. was recorded at 100 metres.

The city recorded 27.8 mm rain in last 24 hours.

According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality here continued to be ‘moderate’ as on Tuesday, with the air quality index (AQI) being 99.

On Tuesday, the maximum temperature was recorded at 19.4 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season’s average, while the minimum was 12.5 around five notches above normal.


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