The national capital on Monday woke up to witness dense smog as 'severe' air quality was recorded. The unfavourable meteorological conditions are likely to keep the air quality in the 'severe' category for the next couple of days, authorities said. The major pollutants PM 2.5 were recorded at 373 and PM 10 at 282 (very poor category) in the RK Puram area. In the Anand Vihar area, the Air Quality Index (AQI) PM 2.5 was at 717 and PM 10 at 999. At the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium area, PM 2.5 was at 323 and PM 10 at 335. AQI at Punjabi Bagh Delhi was recorded poor, PM 2.5 was at 510 while the PM 10 was at 519. This is a fourth time this season that the air quality here has worsened to severe category. The first time it dipped to the severe category this year was just two days before Diwali.
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On Sunday, Delhi recorded its second highest pollution level of the year. While the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data showed the overall air quality index (AQI) at 'severe' level of 446, the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) showed a higher level at 471. This is the second highest pollution level of this year. The highest was recorded on November 8, a day after Diwali, when the AQI touched 571. Several areas like Ashok Vihar, Anand Vihar and Wazirpur, among others, inched towards the 'severe plus emergency' category, the data showed.
Officials said they are closely monitoring the situation and if these conditions persist for 48 hours, then stringent action would be taken.
A Central Pollution Control Board-led task force has advised people to minimise outdoor exposure for the next three to five days and avoid using private vehicles.
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Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had said that greater usage of public transport facilities will be a "major step" towards curbing air pollution. Addressing a stakeholders' consultation 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.
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.