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As dense layer of smog envelops Delhi, air quality nears ‘severe’ zone


A layer of eye-stinging smog lingered over Delhi on Monday as its air quality neared the ‘severe’ zone with stubble burning accounting for 22% of the city’s PM 2.5 pollution.

The city’s 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) stood at 392 (very poor), worsening from 352 on Sunday. It was 354 on Thursday, 271 on Wednesday, 302 on Tuesday and 312 on Monday (Diwali).

The Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) reported 2,131 farm fires in Punjab on Monday, the highest so far this season, 1,761 on Sunday, 1,898 on Saturday, 2,067 on Friday and 1,111 on Thursday.

“Low wind speed allowed pollutants to accumulate in the air and the air quality index situation might deteriorate to “severe” Tuesday morning,” Mahesh Palawat, vice president (meteorology and climate change), Skymet Weather said.

According to SAFAR, a forecasting agency under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the share of farm fires in Delhi PM2.5 pollution stood at 22% on Monday. It was 26% on Sunday, the highest this year so far, and 21% on Saturday.

Palwat said the transport-level wind direction and speed is favourable for transport of smoke from stubble burning.

According to an analysis by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, people in the national capital breathe the worst air between November 1 and November 15 — the period when stubble burning peaks.

The city records an average PM2.5 concentration of 285 micrograms per cubic metre from November 1 to November 15. PM 2.5 level from 61 to 120 is considered “moderate to poor”, 121 to 250 “very poor”, 251 to 350 “severe” and more than 350 is “severe plus”. IARI reported 2,131 farm fires in Punjab on Monday, the highest so far this season, 1,761 on Sunday, 1,898 on Saturday, 2,067 on Friday and 1,111 on Thursday. It logged 70 and 20 cases of stubble burning in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, respectively, on Monday.



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