The air quality in Delhi witnessed slight improvement on Thursday with an increased wind speed, although settling in the 'poor' category. A task force recommended banning industrial and construction activities in major pollution "hotspots" if air quality turns severe. It also pushed for better and stricter implementation of actions already in force by public agencies, municipal bodies, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, traffic police and other agencies responsible under the Graded Response Action Plan.
On Thursday, the overall air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 273 which falls in the poor category, according to the data of the Central Pollution Control Board. Twelve areas in the national capital recorded 'very poor' air quality while 22 areas recorded 'poor' air quality, the data said.
With onset of winters, Delhi sees no respite in sight as air quality remains 'very poor' for third straight day
The level of PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) was recorded at 134 and the PM10 level was recorded at 280, it said.
Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida, Greater Noida and Gurgaon all recorded 'poor' air quality, the data said.
Delhi's overall air quality was in the 'very poor' category on Wednesday with four areas in the city recording 'severe' pollution due to low wind speed.
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'.
According to the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR), the air quality is likely to improve further until late night.
"Thereafter, it is expected to remain in very poor category in the next two to three days. The wind speed was high last night which has declined but it is still moderately and hence favourable for dispersion," SAFAR said in a report.
Humidity in the city is high which is slightly unfavourable and stubble fire will have marginal impact, it said.
The task force, also comprising members from the India Meteorological Department the Delhi Pollution Control Board and the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board, met here to review the status of ambient air quality of the national capital.
In the meeting, the task force members were apprised about the level of air pollution in Delhi-NCR. The task force has made two recommendations.
First: Stricter implementation of actions already in force by public agencies, municipal bodies, Delhi Pollution Control Committee, traffic police and other agencies responsible under the Graded Response Action Plan, according to the minutes of the meeting.
And the second recommendation is banning industrial and construction and demolition activities in major hotspot areas when air quality levels reach severe category, it said.
Some of the pollution hotspots (or vulnerable areas) identified are Wazirpur, Mundaka, Narela, Bawana and Anand Vihar.
The recommendations have been made to the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority for consideration.
Authorities had earlier said they are mulling to use artificial rain to clear the toxic air but cloud seeding would require certain meteorological conditions which are currently not favourable.
Meanwhile, India Paryavaran Sahayak Foundation, an NGO, said in a statement it has launched an initiative to spread awareness and drive usage of in-field straw management practices among farmers to reduce stubble burning and air pollution caused due to crop residue burning.
(With PTI inputs)