New Delhi: The national capital witnessed a slight improvement in its air quality on Saturday morning, as it moved from ‘severe’ to ‘very poor’ category. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) in the Capital dropped from 461 at 7 am on Friday to 398 this morning, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR-India).
However, the residents of the city did not feel much relief from the dense, toxic haze that enveloped the city. A morning walker at Kartavya Path told ANI, “We are finding it difficult to breathe. Senior citizens and children are especially at the receiving end of the prevailing foul air in the city.”
Another morning walker said that the high levels of air pollution were causing respiratory problems. “There is significant pollution in the air, which is giving us health problems,” he said. The air quality index at Ghazipur was recorded at 398 at 7.15 am on Saturday, as per SAFAR-India.
Meanwhile, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai, on Friday, sought the Centre’s intervention in reversing the city’s declining air quality. He said that the situation was not limited to Delhi, but was affecting the entire north India. He cited the examples of 12 districts of neighbouring Haryana, 14 locations in Rajasthan and several districts in western Uttar Pradesh, where the air quality had deteriorated to ‘severe’ range.
Rai also said that a 6-member special task force has been formed, under the leadership of the Environment Special Secretary for proper implementation and monitoring of GRAP rules.
The air quality in Delhi and other cities worsened after Diwali celebrations, despite the Supreme Court’s ban on fireworks. Nine out of 11 state capitals analysed in India recorded higher pollution in the first 12 hours after Diwali celebrations this year as compared to last year, according to the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP) tracker. The highest spike (recorded at 15-minute intervals) was seen in Delhi. It was 999.5 ug/m3 at Pusa on November 13 at 1:30 am.
The NCAP Tracker is a joint project by Climate Trends and Respirer Living Sciences to create an online hub for the latest updates on India’s clean air policy, the National Clean Air Programme (NCAP). The data was sourced from the Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations (CAAQMS) of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).