Delhi battles 4.7-degree chill, ‘very poor’ air quality

Delhi cold morning fog

New Delhi, Dec 21 (IANS) Delhi continued to battle chilly nights and toxic air on Friday with the minimum temperature dropping to 4.7 degrees Celsius, three notches below the season’s normal, and air quality hitting the “very poor” zone.

“Increase in winter chill can be attributed to the fact that there has been no significant changes in the weather pattern across northwestern plains of the country in the past 24 hours. In the wake of this, light and cold northwesterly winds are prevailing over Punjab, Haryana and Delhi region, leading to cold wave conditions in some areas,” private weather agency Skymet said.

While the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi at 386 touched the upper level of “very poor”, many areas of the national capital were in “severe” category with AQI reading above 400.

The areas with “severe” levels of toxic Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 included Ashok Vihar, Delhi Technological University (DTU), Jahangirpuri, Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Mundka, Wazirpur, Sonia Vihar, Rohini, R.K. Puram, Pusa, Delhi University’s North Campus and Nehru Nagar.

Greater Noida and Ghaziabad of the national capital region (NCR) were also in the “severe” zone with 407 AQI. Faridabad at 370, however, has been consistent with its “very poor” air quality for some days now. Gurugram also stuck to its “poor” air quality on Friday.

Noida saw a little improvement from Thursday’s “severe” air quality (404) and turned “very poor” on Friday with its AQI at 394.

“While overall air quality remains very poor, slightly increased surface wind speed — from 2.5 kmph to 3.6 kmph — might disperse pollutants very slowly,” System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said in its daily pollution analysis on Friday.

However, the agency said rest of the meteorological conditions are likely to be unfavourable for pollutants to disperse which will keep AQI “very poor”.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) and SAFAR both have predicted moderate fog over the next few days which will help both gaseous and particulate pollutants (PM2.5 and PM10) to “stagnate near the surface”.

“Shallow to moderate fog is likely to cover the plains of northwest India over the weekend,” the IMD said.

It also said that ground frost and cold wave conditions are likely to prevail over Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, west Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan during the next two days and abate thereafter due to a rise in minimum temperature by 1-3 degrees Celsius.

As per the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the average concentration of particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) in Delhi were 233 and 397 microgrammes per cubic metre, respectively. Across NCR, it was between 244 and 402 units.

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