Normal life in Punjab and Haryana was affected and flight operations at Chandigarh airport hit as dust haze engulfed Haryana for the third day on Friday.
As many as 26 domestic flights had to be cancelled due to low visibility levels caused by the dark dust haze. Flights cancelled included seven of Indigo airlines, eight of Jet Airways, one each of Vistara, AirAsia, SpiceJet, three of GoAir and five of Air India, airport officials said.
Indigo airlines' Dubai flight was to operate from Delhi and all passengers, who were booked to board from Chandigarh, were shifted to Delhi by road, they said.
In view of the prevailing weather condition, some flight operators had announced cancellation of flights scheduled for the day, the airport officials said.
On Thursday, over 30 flights were cancelled as visibility levels dropped considerably due to the dust haze in Chandigarh. Motorists at many places had to switch on their headlights during the day.
"I had never seen anything like this before. The situation was not this bad even by the air pollution caused by stubble burning in the months of October-November last year in many parts of Punjab and Haryana," said Baldev Chand, an elderly resident living here.
Layers of dust had accumulated on vehicles in the morning parked in the open during the night. Air quality and visibility levels have been hit by the dust haze.
The meteorological (MeT) department, however, said that the situation was likely to improve from tomorrow.
"The situation should be better from tomorrow. A Western Disturbance is approaching the region, which is likely to bring some rain and help dissipate the dust," Chandigarh's MeT Department Director Surinder Paul said.
Thunderstorm with squall and wind speed exceeding 45 kmph is likely at isolated places on June 15, 16 and 17 in Haryana and Punjab, as per the MeT forecast issued today.
Due to the dust and haze, the maximum temperatures registered a fall for the second day today across Haryana and Punjab and settled in the range of 35-39 degrees Celsius at most places.
The weather department here said earlier that a ground-level dust storm in Rajasthan, with wind speeds up to 40 kmph, had led to a spike in the levels of coarse particles in the air in most parts of Haryana and Punjab, including Chandigarh.
In view of severe dust pollution, the Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) yesterday issued an advisory that no construction activity could be carried out for the next two days in districts falling under the National Capital Region (NCR).
Haryana's Environment Minister Vipul Goel said the Board was monitoring the pollution level and would advise further necessary steps in consultation with the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority and the Central Pollution Control Board.
The air quality in several parts of Punjab and Haryana has also been adversely affected for the past two days, officials said.
Children, the elderly and those who are ill, especially the ones facing respiratory issues, should take precautions and avoid going out in view of the prevailing weather conditions, the health officials have advised.