Delhi may witness an “air emergency” in the next three days with a sudden rise in stubble burning cases in the neighbouring States of Punjab and Haryana. The expected change in air quality has been attributed to two reasons as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR): A spike in farm fires and Diwali.
The Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) marked the Capital’s air quality as “poor”, and said the effective fire count of stubble burning in the northwest region of Delhi was 656. “Its share in Particulate Matter (PM) 2.5 is 16 per cent as transport level winds are north-westerly,” it said.
“The Air Quality Index (AQI) is likely to deteriorate rapidly and slip to very poor category by October 28 (Thursday). Calm local winds combined with highly favourable transport level winds (North-north westerly) at 900-950 mb height enhance stubble burning related intrusion. Any increase in fire counts in next three days would increase finer particle levels of Delhi,” it said.
Rain and favourable wind might have delayed the onset of winter pollution in Delhi, but air quality forecasts for the coming days suggest that the Capital is headed towards an air emergency.While the delayed withdrawal of monsoon from north India and the heavy post-monsoon showers in October resulted in a slow start to the stubble burning season this year but this does not indicate that there will be a drop in the cumulative numbers of fires in Punjab and Haryana, where farmers carry out the practice to clear their fields quickly for the next cropping season. Meanwhile, the overall AQI was 218 microgram per cubic and values of Suspended Particulate Matters (SPMs) also escalated on the National Ambient Air Quality Index (NAAQI).