Crop fires were also reported from districts which the Punjab government had vowed to make burning-free.However, local pollution sources had the lion’s share in Delhi’s AQI and experts attributed this to calm winds preventing dispersal of emissions while allowing minimum intrusions from other states.
On Sunday, the air quality index, on a scale of 0 to 500, was 325 (‘very poor’) as against 304 a day earlier. While data for some major hotspots such as Anand Vihar was unavailable, AQI in areas like Mundka, Jawahar Nagar and Jahangirpuri oscillated between very poor to severe through the day.
AQI to stay very poor for next few days
According to pollution monitoring agencies, Delhi’s AQI is likely to stay in the ‘very poor’ range for the next two-three days. “The air quality is likely to be very poor from October 30 to November 1. Outlook for the subsequent six days: Air quality is likely to remain in the very poor to poor category,” stated the air quality early warning system by Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM).
The weather analysts pointed out that the city would require strong winds to disperse the accumulated pollutants. Weather scientists stated that current wind speeds were very low, which were not allowing local pollutants from dispersing while also allowing only a minimum intrusion of pollutants from neighbouring states with stubble burning incidents. “Currently the winds are mostly easterly but very light, so the winds are unable to help the air quality. It’s calm or very light, about 4-5kmph, so instead of pollutants getting ventilated, accumulation of new particles is happening.
There are no chances of the wind speed picking up for the next two to three days either, so there are very less chances of any improvement in air quality,” said Mahesh Palawat, vice chairman, climate change and meteorology, SkyMet. He added that while most of the pollution in Delhi is due to local sources, the intrusion from neighbouring Punjab and Haryana however for now is less. “There is no major contribution of north-westerly winds in the region, so we can say that whatever pollution there is in Delhi is from local sources, with minimal contribution from Haryana or Punjab… Weather will remain dry for at least a week. No major change in the temperatures minimum or maximum expected either as no western disturbance is being foreseen at least till 2nd half of November,” said Palawat.
Among sources of pollution, vehicular emissions within Delhi contributed to 17% of the city’s net PM2.5. The share of crop burning was approximately 10% and pollutants from Gautam Budh Nagar contributed nearly 6% and Jhajjar 4% to Delhi’s air quality. Meanwhile, Punjab recorded 1,068 incidents of stubble burning on Sunday, the highest since the current harvesting season began. As per remote sensing data, Punjab had recorded 127 incidents on Saturday and 766 on Friday.
So far, the agriculture state has reported 5,254 incidents of crop burning as compared to 12,112 during the same period last year. However, there are reports of a late harvest in Punjab which means paddy stubble-burning incidents are likely to rise in the coming weeks. As per the action plan of Punjab government shared with Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM), Punjab aims to reduced incidents of stubble burning in the entire season to 24,202 – 50% less than the 2022 level, and aims to achieve zero burning in six districts —Hoshiarpur, Malerkotla, Pathankot, Rup Nagar, SAS Nagar and SBS Nagar. However, as per remote sensing data, four incidents were recorded in Hoshiarpur, five in Rupnagar, one in SAS Nagar and seven in SBS Nagar.