Even as India's capital city scrambles to tackle its epic air pollution problems, there seems to be no end to the woes of people residing in Delhi and its adjoining areas. On Monday morning, Delhi air quality was in 'severe-plus emergency' category. SAFAR, the government-run monitoring agency, said Delhi’s air quality index (AQI) was 708 at 6:30 am. Gurgaon, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad too recorded severe-plus emergency overall air quality.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor, and 401-500 severe. Above 500 is severe-plus emergency category.
The AQI of four places in and around Delhi has been provided in the table given below.
The odd-even scheme and road traffic rationing scheme kickstarted today, with only even-numbered non-transport vehicles allowed on Delhi roads on the first day of the exercise. The impact of the scheme is yet to be seen.
In the National Capital Region (NCR), Noida (720) and Gurugram (833), also breathed extremely polluted air.
The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor, SAFAR, said the city's overall AQI reached as high as 708 around 5 pm, which is 14 times the safe level of 0-50.
On Sunday, low visibility due to heavy smog disrupted flight operations at the Delhi airport, with 37 flights diverted to other airports and more than 250 departures and 300 arrivals delayed, officials said.
NASA satellite imagery showed vast swathes of the northern plains, covering Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh, blanketed under a smoky haze.
Weather experts said any significant improvement in the situation is highly unlikely unless there is rainfall, which may occur on November 7 and 8 under the influence of Cyclone Maha and a western disturbance.
The spurt in pollution levels prompted the administrations in Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad to shut all government and private schools till November 5.
The Delhi government had on Friday directed closure of schools till November 5 and banned construction activities after the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a public health emergency as air quality plummeted.
On Twitter, hashtags 'DelhiBacho' and 'DelhiAirEmergency' trended for a major part of the day as hundreds of people said they wanted to leave the NCR till the situation ameliorates.