Pollution levels in Delhi and neighbouring cities dropped marginally on Saturday with a slight increase in the wind speed, a day after the region recorded its worst air quality forcing authorities to shut schools, ban construction activities and declare a public health emergency.
The Capital's overall air quality index (AQI) stood at 407 at 10 am. It was 484 at 4 pm on Friday. In the National Capital Region, Ghaziabad and Greater Noida recorded AQIs of 459 and 452, respectively, at 10 am on Saturday. On Friday, they had an AQI of 496 at 4 pm, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said.
Weather experts said there is a significant improvement in wind speed and it would increase gradually. Winds gusting up to 20-25 km per hour are likely in the region from Sunday to Tuesday, they said. Scattered rain in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi is likely on November 7 and 8 under the influence of Cyclone Maha and a fresh western disturbance, the weather office said.
This rain, however light, would be significant in terms of reducing the effect of stubble-burning, and would wash away pollutants, they said. On Friday, the Supreme Court-mandated the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared the public health emergency, following which the Delhi government decided to shut all schools. The EPCA also banned construction activities in Delhi-NCR till November 5.
The Chief Minister, Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, termed Delhi a 'gas chamber' and blamed neighbouring Haryana and Punjab for the apocalyptic haze over the city.
The share of stubble-burning in Delhi’s pollution stood at 46 per cent on Friday, the highest so far, according to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR.