Delhi air remains 'severe'; Kejriwal puts onus on people

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A Delhi government official blamed the pollution for lighter-than-usual traffic on already holiday-thinned streets, while a Delhi airport official said some domestic and global flights were delayed for up to two hours due to poor visibility. The air quality remained "severe" Monday and Tuesday before moving to the "very poor" category Wednesday morning.

According to the SAFAR, the overall air quality in Delhi is expected to remain in the "severe" range till Tuesday. The index was 5500 sqm/second Wednesday, the IITM said.

Delhi, along with other metropolitan states, has been reeling under bouts of pollution for the last couple of days as the notoriously sub-standard air quality has become even more pernicious.

Industries will be closed and construction activities stopped for three days beginning from Monday at six pollution hotspots areas in Delhi-National Capital Region in view of the "severe" air quality.

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The AQI recorded 217 with PM (particulate matter) 2.5 at 557 and PM (particular matter) 10 at 747.

The EPCA directed the traffic police to deploy special teams and ensure congestion-free traffic flow particularly in identified high traffic corridors.

The air quality in nearby Ghaziabad was "severe" in the afternoon but improved to "very poor" by the evening.

The agencies concerned have also been asked to ensure strict action against illegal industries and make all efforts to control polluting activities, particularly waste burning.

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Any respite from poor air quality is unlikely due to the high level of humidity in the air, coupled with slow wind and extremely cold condition in the northern part of the country. On December 23, 2019, the Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded the second highest pollution level this year with an AQI of 450, which is considered "severe", a level below "hazardous".

Delhi's air quality had turned "severe" on Saturday.

"The wind speed and ventilation index are highly unfavorable for dispersion of pollutants", it said. "Until the Centre takes steps, nothing can not be done", Kejriwal said.

The advisory also recommended frequent wet mopping and using masks known as N-95 or P-100 respirators only for outdoor activities. "There should be a major policy for the dust of construction-related work", added Dr Guleria.

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"It is just that dispersal (of pollutants) is not happening because of the meteorological conditions". "SAFAR forecasting model predicts a faster improvement due to faster dispersion and deposition owing to a shorter lifetime of particles near the surface". "Minimum temperatures very likely to fall by two to three Degrees Celsius over many parts of northwest and central India during next two to three days", the IMD said in a bulletin.