Delhi's air quality remained in the "very poor" category on Saturday with the Air Quality Index (AQI) recorded at 346. Government agencies said the air quality will deteriorate further in the evening and on Sunday.
Areas like Mundka, Wazirpur and Alipur recorded "severe" levels of air pollution, authorities said. Government agencies have forecast that the air quality will deteriorate further in the next two days.
The AQI was recorded at 366 on Friday while it was 302 the previous day. An AQI between 0 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".
The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality monitor System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said a significant increase in the stubble-fire count was observed around Haryana, Punjab and other neighbouring regions of the national capital, which stood at 1,213 on Thursday. Ten monitoring stations in Delhi entered the "severe" zone on Friday, according to the AQI-monitoring mobile application SAMEER, developed by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
According to SAFAR, extremely calm surface wind conditions prevail over the Delhi region and are forecast to continue for two days. "This will lead to low ventilation conditions for an extended period and accumulation of pollutants near the surface. Further deterioration of AQI is expected for two days," it said.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the air quality will deteriorate further with pollutants PM10 (particles with a less-than-10-micrometre diameter) and PM2.5 increasing. PM2.5 are tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in diameter and can enter deep into the lungs and even the bloodstream.
The 24-hour average AQI of Delhi was recorded at 256 on Wednesday, 223 on Tuesday and 244 the day before. The figures are based on data collected from 36 monitoring stations in the city.
The Delhi government has kick-started its "Red Light On, Gaadi Off" anti-pollution campaign for which it has deployed 2,500 environment marshals at 100 traffic signals across the city to generate awareness and curb vehicular pollution. The drive will be carried out in all 70 Assembly constituencies of the national capital from October 26 to November 15 from 8 am to 8 pm.