Thick Smog Covers Delhi 2 Days Before Diwali, Air Quality Falls

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A thick haze of smog is seen near India Gate in Delhi this morning

New Delhi:

Delhiites woke up to a thick blanket of smog this morning amid warnings by weather officials of falling air quality in the national capital two days before Diwali. The levels of the pollutant PM2.5 was at a "severe" 644 or over 10 times the safe limit this morning at south Delhi's Okhla monitoring station, according to data from the Delhi Pollution Control Board. PM2.5 are fine particles that can penetrate the lungs and cause respiratory diseases.

Visibility on the roads was low this morning, as against Sunday when air quality significantly improved due to increased wind speed and control measures implemented by the government.

"The AQI (air quality index) is predicted to be in the lower range of very poor today as the atmosphere is relatively clean," an official of the centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research or SAFAR told news agency Press Trust of India.

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The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology said stubble-burning and other sources of air pollution in the northwest region of India were significantly less on Saturday compared to Thursday last, but warned of a sharp increase in PM2.5 concentration from today.

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A man walks near India Gate as thick smog blankets Delhi this morning

"If significant stubble burning continues on Sunday and Monday in the NW (north-west) region, then its impact is very likely over Delhi and AQI may reach the upper end of the very poor category," the IITM said.

The DPCC has directed the transport department and the traffic police to intensify checking of polluting vehicles and control road congestion till November 10. Construction work involving excavation is banned; no stone-crushers and hot-mix plants that generate dust cannot be run at this time.

"I have sent my children to play outside after weeks (on Sunday). I hope the air quality finally improves and we see a clean Diwali," Mayur Vihar resident Sarita Mathur told PTI.

D Saha, former additional director and head of air quality management division at the CPCB, said no drastic change in pollution level is anticipated as the ground level emissions are under control due to administrative and regulatory measures. "We are likely to have a clean Diwali," he said.

With inputs from PTI

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