Delhi’s air quality remained in the ‘very poor’ category (at 02:21 pm) on Thursday afternoon, with the overall air quality index (AQI) recorded at 339.
The information was shared by the ministry of earth sciences’ System of Air Quality & Weather Forecasting & Research (SAFAR) amid heightened concerns over a worsening pollution situation in the national capital region (NCR) on the occasion of Diwali as the day began on a smoggy note.
The authorities have said the crisis is only likely to get worse from here even if no crackers are burst during the festivities.
This was the third consecutive day when the capital’s air quality remained “very poor” for the second consecutive day on Wednesday.
While SAFAR has said the air quality may become ‘severe’ on November 5 and 6 if firecrackers are burnt, an official from the India Meteorological Department said model predictions do not indicate the AQI reaching the ‘severe’ category “even with higher emissions”, according to a PTI report.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the capital recorded a 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of 314 on Wednesday, 303 on Tuesday and 281 on Monday.
The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (337), Gurgaon (330), Ghaziabad (353) and Noida (327) also recorded very poor air quality on Wednesday.
An AQI between zero 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’.
On Wednesday, SAFAR said 3,271 farm fires accounted for eight per cent of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution on Wednesday. It is likely to increase to 20 per cent on Thursday and further to 35 to 40 per cent on Friday and Saturday with the wind direction changing to northwest, it said.
Northwesterly winds carry smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana towards the national capital.
(With inputs from agencies)