On Monday, the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi took a concerning turn, reaching 358 (very poor) at 4 pm and escalating further to 403 (severe) by 10 pm. This decline persisted into Tuesday morning, maintaining the air quality in the ‘very poor’ category. The deterioration is attributed to the extensive use of firecrackers during Diwali night and the subsequent day.
The Early Warning System for Delhi forecasts that the air quality is expected to remain in the ‘severe’ category from Tuesday to Thursday, raising alarm bells for residents and authorities alike.
Data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) reveals that at 9 am on Tuesday, Delhi recorded an average AQI of 361. Specific monitoring stations reported even higher levels, with the ITO station registering an AQI of 427, the IGI Airport at 426, and Delhi University north campus at 398.
Monday witnessed a dramatic spike in AQI, with a 140-point increase between Sunday (218 at 4 pm) and Monday, marking the sharpest rise in average pollution levels in the last eight years during the post-Diwali period.
Particulate matter PM 2.5 emerged as the predominant pollutant on Tuesday morning, underscoring the impact of combustion sources, particularly firecrackers. Despite a ban on the sale, manufacturing, and possession of firecrackers in the capital, their influence on air quality remained evident.
The surge in pollution levels triggered a political blame game between the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Delhi’s Environment Minister, Gopal Rai, accused the BJP of supporting the “targeted” use of firecrackers, a claim vehemently denied by the BJP, which, in turn, pointed fingers at the AAP governments in Delhi and Punjab for their alleged failure to prevent such incidents.
On Tuesday morning, the city witnessed a partly cloudy sky and shallow-to-moderate fog, with the minimum temperature recorded at 12 degrees Celsius. This follows a drop to the season’s lowest at 11.2 degrees Celsius the previous day. According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast, the maximum temperature on Tuesday is anticipated to reach 27 degrees Celsius. As Delhi grapples with severe pollution levels, the situation remains a cause for concern, prompting calls for immediate action and environmental responsibility.