Delhi Inhaled ‘Worst’ Air in October Since 2020. What to Expect in November?

The air quality in Delhi continues to remain in “very poor” category for the fourth day in a row and there is a strong possibility that the situation may not improve in November.

Two data on Delhi’s air quality were released on Tuesday—one indicates a silver lining in efforts to tackle the problem while the other shows that nothing has changed.

Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) data suggests air quality in Delhi in October this year was the “worst” since 2020. The capital recorded an average Air Quality Index (AQI) of 210 this October, compared to 210 in October last year and 173 in October 2021.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.

However, the Commission for Air Quality Management in NCR and Adjoining Areas (CAQM) said the daily average air quality in Delhi, for the 10-month period between January – October, 2023, registers its best index as compared to the corresponding period during the last 6 years (barring the COVID affected 2020), thus establishing a continual trend of relative improvement in air quality of Delhi-NCR.

Like every year people of Delhi are breathing poisonous air this month. The average air quality in the National Capital Region (NCR) was recorded in “very poor” category– Faridabad (320), Noida (329), Delhi (359), Greater Noida (375), as per the CPCB data on Tuesday.

What Did CPCB Say?

According to CPCB data, the capital did not record even a single day with ‘good’ air quality, whereas there were two such days in 2022 and one in 2021. The CAQM, however, reported that Delhi registered an AQI of 172 from January 1 to October 31 this year, the second-best for the corresponding period in six years.

The city recorded better air quality during this period only during the COVID-19 pandemic-affected 2020. In 2022, 2021, 2019 and 2018, the average AQI during this period ranged from 179 to 201, the CPCB said in a statement.

Relatively Low Average Wind Speed in October: CAQM

The average wind speed during October 2023 was relatively low and spells of absolutely “still” conditions were possible factors for the air quality in the national capital.

The Centre’s Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) said the average wind speed during October 2023 was relatively low and spells of absolutely “still” conditions were also observed during the month.

Despite this heavy rainfall deficit and low wind speeds, the daily average AQI during the month of October, 2023 at 219 has only been slightly higher than the daily average AQI of 210 during October, 2022.

Delhi saw just one rainy day (5.4 mm of precipitation) in October 2023, in contrast to six in October 2022 (129 mm) and seven in October 2021 (123 mm).

Delhi has also witnessed the highest number of days (206) with “Good” to “Moderate” air quality (Daily Average AQI<200) during January – October 2023 as compared to the corresponding period in the previous years (barring the COVID affected 2020).

The daily average AQI for Delhi during the above-noted period during the current year has been recorded as 172 against 187 in 2022, 179 in 2021, 156 in 2020, 193 in 2019 and 201 in 2018 respectively, during the corresponding period.

Delhi Air Pollution: What to Expect in November?

Punjab recorded 1068 farm fires on Sunday, the highest ever of the season. As per a report in Mint, experts have expressed concerns that the worst is yet to come as the harvesting season started later than usual this year.

In such a scenario, the air quality is likely to deteriorate further as stubble burning is one of the major sources of pollution in Delhi-NCR.

Despite the ban on firecrackers in the national capital, air quality turns worse on Diwali and the day after every year.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has said it has notified a complete ban on firecrackers across the Capital till January 1, 2024.

With no change in weather conditions besides a drop in temperatures, the residents of Delhi will continue to inhale the toxic air.

(With PTI inputs)

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