Relief for Delhiites as pollution level falls to year's lowest
NEW DELHI: Rain brought respite for residents of Delhi on the first Sunday of 2019, as the national capital recorded its lowest pollution level of the year.
Traffic remained light on roads where trucks are usually seen moving in the morning, while early morning shops outside offices remained shut.
The air quality fell from the 'severe' level on Saturday to "very poor" on Sunday, authorities told news agency Press Trust of India. According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) in the city was 347.
An AQI between 100 and 200 comes under 'moderate' category, 201 and 300 is considered 'poor', 301 and 400 is 'very poor' and that between 401 and 500 is 'severe'. Thirty-one areas in Delhi recorded 'very poor' air quality, while it was 'poor' in two areas, the CPCB said.
In the National Capital Region, Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Noida recorded 'very poor' air quality, it said. This is the first time this year that the air quality has been recorded in the lower range of the "very poor" category, the authorities said. The overall PM2.5 level (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers) in Delhi was recorded at 197 while the PM10 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 10 micrometers) level was at 312, the CPCB said.
The air quality in Delhi fell to the 'severe' category on Saturday after a slight improvement on Friday. Officials had predicted that sufficient rain would bring down the pollution levels in the city.
"During the day, a partly cloudy sky can be seen with gusty winds, which is likely to lead to light rains or thundershower later in the day," an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official had forecast on Saturday. The Delhi government has not ruled out enforcing the odd-even traffic rule if pollution levels in the city spiked above safe limits.