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Delhi's air quality plunges to 'very poor' category with the AQI at 309

According to the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB's) daily bulletin, Delhi's AQI as of 4 PM on October 28 was 304. It was more than the 256 recorded on October 26

Pollution, Delhi pollution

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BS Web Team New Delhi
With the national capital's Air Quality Index (AQI) at 309, the overall air quality in Delhi plunged into the "very poor" category on Sunday morning, according to Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR)-India.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB's) daily bulletin, Delhi's AQI as of 4 PM on October 28 was 304. It was more than the 256 recorded on October 26.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said on Saturday that the number of stubble-burning incidents recorded in neighbouring states so far is fewer than last year, and the overall contribution of farm fires to the city's air pollution is expected to reduce. However, he cautioned that air pollution may increase in the coming days due to unfavourable meteorological conditions.
Only around 2,500 stubble-burning incidents have been recorded so far, compared to 5,000 such cases during the same period last year, he told reporters here.
According to the Indian Agricultural Research Institute, Punjab, which accounts for the maximum number of cases of stubble burning every year, reported 49,922 farm fires in 2022, compared to 71,304 the previous year and 83,002 in 2020. Haryana recorded 3,661 farm fires in 2022, down from 6,987 in 2021 and 4,202 in 2020. 
On Friday, Haryana released images that it claims are from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and show that there are more than double stubbing burning incidents in Punjab as compared to Haryana on October 25 and 26. Punjab, however, has reported a 50 per cent drop in farm fires so far in the ongoing paddy harvesting season even as the state on Friday saw 766 such incidents, the highest in a single day this season.
The second phase of the Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) was implemented in Delhi to reduce the effect of increased pollution. Uttar Pradesh's Greater Noida and Rajasthan's Hanumangarh are among the most polluted cities. 
According to the CPCB data, Uttar Pradesh's Greater Noida and Rajasthan's Hanumangarh recorded the highest AQI at 346. According to the AQI's categorisation, this falls in the " very poor" category.
How is the air quality in Delhi-NCR?
Delhi's air quality has further declined to the "very poor category", with Greater Noida recording the highest AQI of 346. However, the AQI in the neighbouring cities continues to remain in the poor category. Faridabad followed it at 272 and Gurugram at 252.
Ghaziabad's AQI was 291, and Noida's 286. Sonipat's AQI was also reported in the very poor category at 315, whereas Manesar's AQI plunged into the 'poor category' at 242. Mumbai's AQI was 'moderate' at 153.
What is Delhi doing to curb pollution?
On Friday, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said that the 15-point winter action plan, announced by the Chief Minister in September this year, is being implemented one by one to curb air pollution.
Gopal Rai said, "This winter action plan is now being implemented on the ground one by one to reduce the pollution in the national capital." 
The plan will focus on stubble management, dust pollution, vehicular emission, open burning of garbage, industrial pollution, green war room and Green Delhi application, pollution hotspots, real-time apportionment study, smog tower, e-waste parks, plantation, eco-farming, public participation, firecrackers and joint action with neighbouring states.
On Thursday, the Delhi government launched the "Red Light on, Gaadi Off" campaign to reduce vehicular pollution.
Delhi's Environment Minister Gopal Rai said, "One of the major causes of pollution in the national capital is traffic. To reduce the overall pollution in Delhi, we've had to decrease vehicle pollution. Thus, we are introducing a 'Red Light on, Gaadi Off' campaign to create awareness among the public to curb vehicle pollution."
What is Grap?
The Centre's Pollution Control Board (PCB) had earlier come up with its Graded Response Action Plan (Grap) measures to deal with air pollution.
Under Stage I measures, construction and demolition activities on a plot size of or above 500 square meters are halted. The restaurants and hotels are directed to stop using coal and firewood in tandoors. Moreover, the government undertakes automated cleaning of the roads for dust management. It is activated when AQI is "poor".
Under Stage II, the parking fees are hiked to reduce the usage of private vehicles. To tackle the high number of daily commuters, the frequency of local buses and Metro is increased. It is initiated when AQI is "very poor".
Under Stage III, BS-III petrol and BS-IV diesel four-wheelers are prohibited from entering Delhi-NCR, in addition to other measures. Moreover, all construction activities, except government projects, are halted. The entry of commercial vehicles registered outside Delhi is prohibited in the capital. This stage is activated when AQI is "severe".
Under Stage IV, all construction and demolition activity is banned. The authorities are asked to devise a plan for online classes for schools and remote work for the offices. The government kicks off this stage when the pollution levels are "severe-plus".
What is AQI?
The Air Quality Index is a tool for communication of air quality status to people. There are six AQI categories, namely good, satisfactory, moderately polluted, poor, very poor, and severe.
Each of these categories is decided based on the ambient concentration values of air pollutants and their likely health impacts (known as health breakpoints). According to the AQI scale, the air quality check between 0 and 50 is "good", 51 and 100 "satisfactory", 101 and 200 "moderate", 201 and 300 "poor", 301 and 400 "very poor", and 401 and 450 "severe".
Amid rising pollution in major Indian cities, read Business Standard's article on what is the need of the hour.  
(With agency inputs)

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First Published: Oct 29 2023 | 10:29 AM IST

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