The air quality in Delhi returned to the ‘severe’ category on Wednesday, with a 24-hour average AQI of 426 at 4 pm.
This is the sixth day this month that the AQI was in the ‘severe’ (401 to 500) category. On Tuesday, it was 395, in the ‘very poor’ category.
A forecast issued by the Air Quality Early Warning System on Wednesday said that the AQI is set to remain in the ‘severe’ category on Thursday, and in the ‘very poor’ category on Friday and Saturday. On Friday, very light rainfall is expected at one or two places, with a western disturbance affecting northwest India, going by the IMD forecast.
While calm conditions persisted on Wednesday morning, the city saw winds from the northwest, with a speed of 8 to 12 kmph, for the rest of the day.
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On Thursday, wind direction could still be from the northwest or northeast, with a speed of 4 to 12 kmph, going by the forecast. While a wind speed of less than 10 kmph is unfavourable for the dispersion of pollutants, winds from the northwest can carry smoke from crop residue burning into Delhi-NCR.
Punjab recorded 2,003 farm fires on Wednesday, up from 1,515 on Tuesday. The highest figure recorded so far is 3,230 on November 5, according to data from the Indian Agricultural Research Institute. There were 44 farm fires in Haryana on Wednesday, taking the total for the State so far this season to 1,649.
The contribution of crop residue burning to PM 2.5 levels in Delhi has remained over 20% from November 2 onwards, according to data from the Decision Support System developed by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. On Tuesday, this contribution was 26.256%, while the highest daily contribution so far was 35.43% on November 3. (reporter: Abhinaya Harigovind edited by Nikitha Phyllis)