Delhi’s air quality on Sunday, October 18, was recorded in the ‘poor’ category with an air quality index (AQI) of 275 at 8:30 am.
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.
The 24-hour average AQI was 287 on Saturday. It was 239 on Friday and 315 on Thursday, the worst since February 12 (AQI 320).
The share of stubble burning in Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution is likely to increase significantly, according to a central government agency.
It was 19% on Saturday, 18% on Friday and around 1% on Wednesday.
Winds blowing from the northwest during daytime are bringing pollution from farm fires. At night, calm winds and low temperatures are allowing the accumulation of pollutants, according to an India Meteorological Department official.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR, the farm fire count around Haryana, Punjab, and neighbouring border regions was 882 on Saturday.
The impact of stubble burning on Delhi’s air quality is likely to increase significantly by Monday.
Punjab and Haryana have recorded more incidents of stubble burning this season so far compared to last year and it is largely due to early harvesting of paddy and unavailability of farm labour due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to officials.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on Friday had said meteorological conditions in Delhi have been “extremely unfavourable” for dispersion of pollutants since this September as compared to last year.
Earlier on Thursday, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar had said that around 95% of the pollution is due to factors like dust, construction and biomass burning and the share of stubble burning is only around 4%.
In order to step up efforts for ensuring better air quality, 50 teams of Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) were deployed from Thursday to make extensive field visits in the Delhi-NCR region.