In a major relief for Delhiites, a slight dip in pollution level was recorded in the Delhi-NCR area on Saturday. Delhi's overall Air Quality Index (AQI) on Saturday was recorded at 330, which falls in the "very poor" category, data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said. On Friday, the AQI stood at 370.
According to a report by the System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the improvement is suggestive of the effect of control measures.
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The AQI has improved in the last two days and the SAFAR report has attributed it to measures such as halt on all construction activities involving excavation, checking of polluting vehicles and sprinkling of water on roads.
Delhi authorities have stepped up efforts to combat the pollution which include measures like halting construction activities and regulating traffic.
There is a halt on all construction activities involving excavation. Civil construction has also been suspended in Delhi and other NCR districts, besides closure of all stone crushers and hot mix plants generating dust pollution.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) has also directed the Transport Department and the Traffic Police to intensify checking of polluting vehicles and control travel congestion in the region during November 1-10.
The Centre in collaboration with the Delhi government has launched an aggressive 10-day-long 'Clean Air Campaign' from November 1 to 10 to monitor and report polluting activities as well as to ensure quick action.
About 52 teams deployed under the campaign are visiting different parts of Delhi and adjacent towns of Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Noida.
The teams comprise the local sub divisional magistrate (SDM) as the team leader, senior officials from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) and representatives from the CPCB, Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the DPCC.
A total penalty of Rs 80 lakh was imposed on violators in the last two days by the teams deployed to monitor implementation of measures to combat pollution in Delhi-NCR under the Clean Air Campaign.
Based on 465 complaints, a total fine of Rs 41,82,500 was imposed on Saturday, according to the CPCB. On Friday, a total of 576 complaints were received and fines worth Rs 38,68,500 imposed.
The highest complaints on both the days are against construction and demolition activities.
While the North Delhi Municipal Corporation imposed fines worth Rs 9.6 lakh over violations on Saturday, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation slapped penalties to the tune of Rs 15.50 lakh on Thursday and Friday.
Around 110 vehicles have been deployed to sprinkle water on the roads and 12 mechanical dust sweeping machines have been pressed into action.
The report by SAFAR said at this persistence stage of westerly disturbances, some instability is good for dispersion of pollutants.
But it warned that moisture in Delhi's atmosphere, fall in temperature and upper winds from stubble burning sites will "adversely impact air quality and as per the SAFAR-forecasting model, the AQI will touch upper level of 'very poor' from November 5 afternoon onwards".
However, due to illegal garbage burning and industrial waste burning, Wazirpur was the only area in the Delhi-NCR to record "severe" air quality while air quality in 34 other areas was "very poor", according to the CPCB data.
The PM2.5 level was recorded at 175. Fine particulates can be a matter of serious health concern than PM10 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometres).
Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon, Noida and Greater Noida all recorded "very poor" air quality, according to the data.
As per data by the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the PM10 level in Delhi stood at 302.
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 Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) said the contribution from biomass fire is likely to increase in the coming days.
"The PM2.5 concentration is likely to increase sharply on Monday owing to change in wind direction and contribution from biomass burning. If significant stubble burning continues today and tomorrow in the north-west region of India, its impact is very likely over Delhi and the air quality may reach 'severe' category," it said
"The air quality is likely to be in very poor category on 03.11.2018 and 04.11.2018 and may become severe on 05.11.2018. The north-west wind direction may continue to bring influence of biomass fire on 06.11.2018 and 07.11.2018 (Diwali days)," it added.
The SAFAR also said there could be "severe" deterioration from November 5 due to unfavourable meteorological conditions.
According to the SAFAR, 10 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in Delhi on Saturday was caused due to stubble burning.
Meanwhile, doctors in the national capital Saturday said the impact of air pollution on public health can be compared to smoking of 15-20 cigarettes a day.
To showcase the ill effects of air pollution, an installation depicting human lungs was unveiled at a city hospital.
(With PTI inputs)