Air quality in Delhi-NCR continues to remain in 'severe' category

Man wearing mask to save himself from pollution near India Gate in New Delhi

When the best doctors in Delhi are categorically stating that the AQI (Air Quality Index) in and around areas like the Feroze Shah Kotla stadium is so bad that it is hazardous to the health to engage in outdoor exercise, can we blame the Lankan cricketers for their reluctance to play, as evinced by not just the wearing of masks by players but the frequent interactions with the umpires between overs on the afternoon of the second day of the third Test between India and the visiting team and when play was even suspended for nearly 20 minutes.

During the hearing, the Delhi government said it needed more time to file the action plan as the chief secretary and environment secretary have been recently changed.

On November 28, the NGT had asked the Delhi government along with governments of four neighbouring states including Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan to submit their plan before December 4.

Jain said that rainfall expected later this week would help bring down air pollution levels drastically.

Pollution is considered severe plus or emergency when readings of PM2.5 and PM10 cross 300 and 500 ug/m3 respectively.

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"This is the regular level we see during winters every year", Mukherjee said, adding that it is usual for air quality to fluctuate between "poor", "very poor", and "severe" in winter. The AQI, as recorded by the CPCB, also reflected the rise in the levels of these ultrafine air-borne particulates.

At 7 p.m., the volume of major pollutant PM2.5 or particles with diameter less than 2.5 micrometers in Delhi was 254 units and in Delhi-NCR it was 261 units - 10 times the safe limit. On Monday, while the overall AQI was "very poor", several monitoring stations came under the "severe" category. However, it is menacingly close to the "severe" category.

An AQI between 0-50 is considered Good, 51-100 Satisfactory, 101-200 Moderate, 201-300 Poor, 301-400 Very Poor, and 401-500 Severe.

The India Meteorological Department said pollution levels have spiked due to calm conditions, marked by low wind speed and moisture. The humidity levels oscillated between 39 and 94 per cent. The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research also predicted a further deterioration in the situation over the next three days.

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