CAPITAL GASPS: Delhi chokes on ‘very poor’ air for 4th day

An Indian worker makes fire-crackers for the upcoming Hindu festival Diwali at a factory on the outskirts of Ahmadabad India

An Indian worker makes fire-crackers for the upcoming Hindu festival Diwali at a factory on the outskirts of Ahmadabad India

India's capital was covered in a blanket of choking grey air and pollution on Saturday, with government data showing air quality slumping to "severe" or "very poor" levels in nearly all parts of Delhi.

"As per the Air Quality Forecast, the air quality is likely to be in very poor to severe category at various places in Delhi for next two days". EPCA has said as air quality deteriorates further and reaches "very poor" or "severe" levels, measures under those categories will be enforced.

The task force also gave recommendations to the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority to deal with the deteriorating air quality. Punjabi Bagh recorded the highest pollution level in the national capital at 434.

"There are local polluting factors such as vehicular pollution and dust, but stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana is contributing about 20-30 per cent to the Delhi's air pollution", said Prashant Gargava, member secretary CPCB.

While the Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was 366 on a scale of 0 to 500, considered "very-poor", the same was 415 in Ghaziabad and 403 in Gurugram - both signifying "severe".

The PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) was recorded at 236, the highest of this season.

The rest of the five monitoring stations showed "poor" air quality, which the CPCB says can cause breathing discomfort to most people on prolonged exposure.

The task force also issued an advisory to the public, asking them to avoid outdoor strenuous activities and minimise use of private vehicles.

The acceptable levels of PM10, the larger particulate matter, and PM 2.5, which measures the finer and more risky particulate matter, are 100µg/ m3 and 60µg/m3, respectively.

"This is owing to stagnation conditions forced by calm winds with low ventilation and moderate stubble injection", according to the SAFAR. The PM10 level (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres) in Delhi stood at 321, according to the data from the SAFAR.

Shoppers walk in a market, wearing face masks to fight the pollution, in New Delhi, India on Thursday this week.

Government authorities have issued warning for Delhiites, advising to keep windows shut, wear masks, prefer short walks, minimise use of private vehicles to battle against the risky levels of air pollution in the city.

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