'Good' air in Delhi after spell of rains
New Delhi: Even as civic bodies' and public health officials here scramble to control the increasing number of vector-borne disease cases fuelled by an unusually delayed monsoon this year, the extended rains have now led to the wettest October the Capital has seen since 1960 — also giving Delhiites a couple of days of breathable air.
This year, 94.6 mm of rainfall has already been recorded in the city in October — this highest since October of 1960. On Sunday, the national capital recorded 87.9 mm of rainfall, the fourth-highest in a day, according to data. Heavy rains lashed the national capital on Monday too, causing waterlogging and traffic snarls in many areas.
However, the surprise Western Disturbance that has brought rains to the northern parts of the country, after which the Air Quality Index here was recorded at 46 — in the "good" category, with PM 2.5 as the lead pollutant, according to air quality monitoring agency SAFAR.
"Fire counts have been reduced to 170 and its share is only 1 per cent to PM2.5. Moist surfaces inhibit re-suspension of dust which will keep AQI in 'good' category for next 24 hours and after that AQI will degrade to 'satisfactory' for Delhi," said SAFAR.
Clouds block satellites
Significantly, these are just the farm fires that satellites have been able to spot and while the Indian Agricultural Research Institute (IARI) has reported declining farm fires in the last two days — 60 across six northern states, with 57 in Punjab, one in Haryana, two in Rajasthan and none in Delhi, UP and MP on Monday — there might be more to it.
IARI has said detection of burning events by satellites was hampered due to clouds over all the study states. This was also corroborated by IITM-Pune's Decision Support System (DSS) — implying the possibility that more fires could have occurred but been missed by the monitoring system.
On October 17, satellites could detect just 54 residue burning events in the six study states. The number of fires decreased from 741 on October 16 to 54 the next day.
Total 4,146 burning events were detected in the six states between September 15 and October 17, which are distributed as 2,389, 1,026, 620, zero, 27 and 84 in Punjab, Haryana, UP, Delhi, Rajasthan and MP, respectively.
Overall, the total burning events recorded in the six states are 50.7 per cent less than in 2020 till date, IARI said — in line with the findings of the Centre for Air Quality Management in the NCR.