Delhi’s air quality remained in the ‘poor’ category for the fourth day in a row and is expected to deteriorate further over the weekend. According to the Centre’s Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, the city’s air quality is likely to be in the poor range on Friday and then deteriorate to very poor over the weekend.
The 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 256 on Thursday, up from 243 on Wednesday and 220 on Tuesday. Neighbouring towns were not much better off — Ghaziabad’s AQI was 235, 230 at Gurgaon and 260 at Greater Noida.
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With the wind in Delhi primarily coming in from the northwest direction and the number of farm fires in Punjab and Haryana rising, the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi’s pollution concentration is expected to rise.
According to data from the Consortium for Research on Agroecosystem Monitoring and Modeling from Space (CREAMS) Laboratory, Punjab on Thursday saw 589 farm fires, the highest in a single day since the paddy stubble harvest began. Haryana, meanwhile, saw 67 fires. While the overall number has been lower than in previous years so far, experts say the real test will be in the first week of November as the season starts to close.
Environment Minister Gopal Rai, meanwhile, launched the ‘Red Light On, Gaadi Off’ campaign from the ITO intersection Thursday. “A survey of the Petroleum Conservation Research Association states that vehicle pollution can be reduced by 15-20% if all engines are switched off at red lights. Consider this real-life situation. When someone steps out of their house with a vehicle, they cross 8-10 crossings during their journey. If the duration of the red light is 2 minutes, and we do not switch off our engine, we are burning fuel unnecessarily for 25-30 minutes. It is only our mindset that when the red light turns green and if our engine is not on, other vehicles will overtake us,” he said.