After a long period of heavy pollution, the air quality in the National Capital Region on Friday improved to "poor" category as concentration of Particulate Matter (PM) decreased. The National Green Tribunal (NGT) deferred to Tuesday hearing on the Delhi government's plea on exemptions on the odd-even traffic scheme.
On Friday, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) registered the Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi-NCR at 299 at 7 pm as compared to 362 at 6 pm. on Thursday.
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Notably, seven of 17 monitoring stations of the CPCB in Delhi found air quality in those areas in the "very poor" bracket while remaining stations in Delhi showed air quality in "poor" category.
In neighbouring Noida, Ghaziabad and Gurugram, AQI ranged between "poor" and "very poor".
The major pollutant PM2.5 or particles with diameter less than 2.5 micro meter, recorded 299 units - putting it in "poor" category while PM10 concentration was found at 202 units - considered as "poor".
Mahesh Palwat, Director of Skymet, a private weather forecast agency, said air quality had improved due to winds from north-west and cyclonic formation in Rajasthan.
"The western disturbance has moved away from hills and hill states have witnessed rainfall and snowfall. So winds from north west with speed of up to 15 kmph are bringing pollution levels down," Palawat said.
Due to relatively cooler and drier winds, smog would not form and temperature would to go down by 2-3 degrees Celsius, he added.
Palawat also said the possibility of increase in pollution due to dust storm in Saudi Arabia and UAE was ruled out as recently formed western disturbance over Pakistan would obstruct it.
System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), weather forecasting body under Ministry of Earth Science, has predicted levels of PM2.5 and PM10 in Delhi to remain in "very poor" and "moderate" categories, respectively, on Saturday.
The NGT on Friday vacated its stay on construction activities in Delhi-NCR and ordered the concerned neighbouring states to submit an action plan to tackle the pollution menace in two weeks' time. However, it deferred the odd-even matter to Tuesday.
The Supreme Court-monitored Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) on Friday wrote to the Delhi government that there was "land available for parking of 2,000 buses within available infrastructure" but no additional buses were procured.
On Friday, Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi Anil Baijal held a meeting with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot and EPCA officials to tackle the air pollution situation.
In a tweet, the LG said "Emergency measures lifted but measures like prohibition on open burning of garbage, mechanical sweeping of roads, increased frequency of metro and ban on use of generator sets to continue and to be strictly enforced by all agencies."
Later, Delhi government sent a release saying the transport department had finalised the roll-out plan for the procurement of 2,000 CNG propelled standard non-AC buses (1,000 each for DTC and Cluster scheme).