Wednesday was even more polluted than Diwali with the peak level of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 crossing those of the festive day last year.
According to Central PollutionControl Board (CPCB), the 24-hour concentration of PM 2.5 at 9.30 am was 698.21 — nearly 11 times higher than the national safe standard. On October 31 (just a day after Diwali), PM2.5 peak was 690.90 micrograms per cubic metre, while the highest level on Tuesday was 349.36.
The national safe standard prescribes the upper limit of concentration of PM2.5 as 60g/m3.Similarly, the air quality index (AQI), measured over a 24-hour period, was 486 on Wednesday, which is considered as ‘severe’. AQI is an indicator of air pollution from the levels of many pollutants that include PM 2.5.
As AQI increases, people are likely to experience severe health effects. And with both PM2.5 and AQI shooting up, the CPCB listed Gurgaon as the most polluted location in the country among the 38 cities and towns it surveyed for air pollution.
Delhi’s AQI, on the other hand, was ‘moderate’ at 163 on Wednesday. Even Ghaziabad and Noida also reported AQI at 197 and 163, respectively. Other cities that generally remain polluted in the country, including Lucknow, Jodhpur and Faridabad, also reported ‘moderate’ and ‘satisfactory’ levels of air pollution.
Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) blamed the increase in construction activities, coupled with wind speed, for the rise in the concentration of PM 2.5.
“Sudden increase in the wind speed is responsible for the dispersal of PM2.5. Increase in construction activities is also responsible to some extent. There is a need to settle dust so that wind can’t blow it, which generally raises the level of particulate matter in the lower atmosphere,” said Jai Bhagwan, regional officer, HSPCB.
Niranjan Raje, a former member of Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority, said, “There are two major causes of an increase in air pollution — dust constantly emitting out of construction sites and an increase in the use of diesel generators. Another reason is traffic congestion due to diversions for construction of underpasses on Delhi-Gurgaon expressway.”