The air quality of Ghaziabad turned worst on Wednesday after Major pollutants PM 2.5 rose to 454 and PM 10 at 575 making it the most polluted city in the country. On Tuesday, the air quality index (AQI) for Ghaziabad city was recorded at 459 which was 63 points higher than what was recorded on Monday (396)
“Ghaziabad topped the list of the most polluted cities in the country, with all its four monitoring stations breaching the 400 mark,” said Utsav Sharma, regional officer, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Department (UPPCB) told the Times of India. “Loni’s AQI remained between 305 and 447 in the past one week and much is attributed to unplanned development,” he added.
The AQI levels for neighbouring Noida and Greater Noida on Tuesday stood at 439 and 428, respectively. On Monday, it was 429 in Noida and 404 in Greater Noida. 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 main reason for the deteriorating air quality in these cities, according to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Department (UPPCB), is the weather conditions and farm fires from Haryana and Punjab.
“Graded response action plan (GRAP) measures for ‘severe’ category were implemented a week ahead of Diwali this year. Also construction activity and pollution-prone industrial activities were curbed much ahead of Diwali, but both cracker bursting and stubble burning are responsible for this situation,” said Sharma told the TOI.
As per SAFAR data, stubble fire counts of Haryana and Punjab have increased from 1654 to 2577 in the past 24 hours. “This coupled with meteorological conditions such as surface winds slowing down, especially during night hours, has been aiding accumulation of pollutants like PM10 and PM2.5,” he said.
“It will get worse from here as the wind speed is low and vehicular traffic is likely to increase Wednesday onwards when schools and offices resume post-holidays,” Sharma added. As per SAFAR forecast, the AQI will remain in the higher end of ‘very poor’ category over the next two days and is expected to improve only after 1 November.
“There is no quick relief in sight until there is an increase in wind speed or change in wind direction. There is also no prediction for rainfall in the near future,” the UPPCB official said. “Anyway, GRAP is already in place and all coal-based industries have been stopped from operating. There is also a ban on construction activities and different departments and agencies are keeping round-the-clock vigil for any violations of air pollution norms,” said Sharma.