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Stubble Burning Resumes, Casting a Shadow on Delhi's Air Quality Before Winter

IMD officials have indicated that the air quality in Delhi-NCR is expected to stay at a "very poor" level in the coming days due to a decrease in temperature and the increased presence of emissions resulting from stubble burning.

Shivangi Rai
The last time Delhi experienced such poor air quality was in May, with an AQI of 336. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)
The last time Delhi experienced such poor air quality was in May, with an AQI of 336. (Image Courtesy- Unsplash)

Delhi's air quality significantly worsened on a recent Sunday, marking the first time it reached the "very poor" category since May 17.

Monitoring agencies reported that the 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) for the capital was 313 on that day, a notable decline from 248 on the previous Saturday.

The last time Delhi experienced such poor air quality was in May, with an AQI of 336. Nearly all areas in Delhi registered "very poor" air quality on this day.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), neighbouring regions also saw deteriorating air quality, with Faridabad at an AQI of 322, Ghaziabad at 246, Greater Noida at 354, Gurugram at 255, and Noida at 304.

Meteorological officials attributed this decline in air quality to unfavourable weather conditions, including a drop in temperature, stagnant wind speeds, and minimal rainfall in October, which differs from previous years.

The India Meteorological Department warned that the "very poor" air quality in Delhi-NCR is expected to persist for several days, with emissions from crop stubble burning contributing to the problem.

Furthermore, the Decision Support System for Air Quality Management, backed by the central government, predicted an increase in paddy straw burning from Monday. This practice is a significant source of air pollution in the region, with smoke from it contributing to 16% of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on the mentioned Sunday, and potentially rising to 30-32% on Monday.

The Union Environment Ministry revealed that farm fires accounted for 34% of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on November 3 in the previous year and surged to 48% on November 7, 2021.

This highlights the ongoing challenge of managing air quality in the Delhi-NCR region, particularly during the winter months when adverse meteorological conditions and agricultural practices contribute to deteriorating air quality.

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