Delhi's air quality further deteriorated on Saturday and was recorded in the ‘very poor' category. The major pollutants PM 2.5 were recorded at 367 and PM 10 at 353 (very poor category) in the RK Puram area. In the Anand Vihar area, the Air Quality Index (AQI) PM 2.5 was at 433 and PM 10 at 432, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). At the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium area, PM 2.5 was at 318 and PM 10 at 308. AQI at Punjabi Bagh Delhi was recorded poor, PM 2.5 was at 404 while the PM 10 was at 395.
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On Friday, 13 areas of the national capital battled ‘severe’ pollution level as unfavourable weather conditions prevented dispersion of pollutants, according to authorities.
"Slightly increased wind speed from - 2.5 kmph to 3.6 kmph - may disperse pollutants very slowly. Other than the wind speed, rest all meteorological factors are likely to be unfavourable. The AQI is expected to recover by weekend but will continue to remain in the very poor range,” the SAFAR said.
On Friday, Minister of State for the Environment Ministry Mahesh Sharma, said that the number of days when pollution level was ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ or ‘moderate’ in the city this year - up to December 16 - was 159 as compared to 151 last year during the corresponding period.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has said that greater usage of public transport facilities will be a "major step" towards curbing air pollution. Addressing a stakeholders' consultation on Tuesday on the proposed draft electric vehicles policy for Delhi, Kejriwal also reiterated his government has the "political will" to take "tough decisions" to cut down pollution.
Last week, the Central Pollution Control Board slapped a fine of Rs 1 crore each on three oil companies for their failure to install anti-pollution "vapour recovery" systems at fuel stations. The fine was slapped on public sector oil firms Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation Limited.
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Delhi is reeling under the menace of air pollution for the past couple of years. The region faced a major air quality crisis last year when severe pollution level forced the shutdown of schools and colleges. In 2016, the government tried to explore the possibility of cloud seeding for artificial rain but the plan never worked out.
An AQI between 100 to 200 comes under ‘moderate’ category, 201 and 300 is considered ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’ while between 401 and 500 ‘severe’. The overall PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometre) level was recorded at 143 and the PM10 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometre) level at 253, according to SAFAR.