In spite of sunny morning Delhi air quality remains 'very poor'

India's air quality has plummeted to worst possible category

Morning haze envelops the skyline on the outskirts of New Delhi

As Diwali nears, the bursting of firecrackers is expected to make the Delhi air quality deteriorate to hazardous levels in the coming days. The Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB recorded the overall air quality index in the national capital at 358 this morning, which falls in the "very poor" category.

Air quality in Delhi-NCR is likely to worsen from November 1 when pollution caused by paddy stubble burning in Punjab-Haryana is expected to impact the region, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) has warned and asked the NCR states to be especially careful.

The PM2.5 (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) was recorded at 179.

These include shut down of coal and biomass factories, intensification of inspection by the transport department to check polluting vehicles and control traffic congestion in Delhi-NCR.

In the morning, air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 332, considered very poor category.

The CPCB-led task force recommended the public to avoid strenuous outdoor activities and minimize the use of private vehicles to reduce exposure to toxic air. Both PM10 and PM2.5 are ultrafine particles, the dominant pollutants in Delhi.

The measures recommended by the task force are only preventive steps and not to create panic as the air pollution in Delhi is governed by meteorological conditions, he said. "On Friday, too, wind speed and direction will remain similar", he said.

Stubble-burning in Delhi's neighbouring Punjab and Haryana is now contributing to 20-30 per cent of the Capital's overall air-pollution, at a time when winds over Delhi are calm, officials said.

The Central Pollution Control Board and SAFAR on Saturday issued separate advisories.

On Thursday, Delhi recorded an AQI at 331.

With Diwali round the corner, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday expressed concerns on the rise of air pollution and urged social organisations to spread awareness about celebrating festivals without harming the environment.

Government authorities have issued warning for Delhiites, advising to keep windows shut, wear masks, prefer short walks, minimise use of private vehicles to battle against the unsafe levels of air pollution in the city. "So, that might affect the quality", an environmental expert said.

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