Toxic Air: Ambala records country’s worst air quality

New Delhi, Nov 4 (IANS) At a time when stubble burning is at its peak, Haryana’s Ambala city recorded the most noxious air in the country on Wednesday.
According to the official data, seven out of 10 most polluted cities were in Uttar Pradesh and three in Haryana.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board, Ambala logged the worst air quality at 452 micrograms per cubic meter, followed by Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad at 425, Baghpat at 420, Muzaffarnagar at 412 and Haryana’s Fatehabad at 406.
These top most polluted cities are followed by Uttar Pradesh’s Ghaziabad, which recorded air quality of 389 micrograms per cubic metre, Hapur at 380, Meerut at 374, Haryana’s Yamunanagar at 369 and Greater Noida at 368.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the share of stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana and other adjoining states in Delhi’s air pollution was only 5 per cent for Wednesday, as against 40 per cent on Sunday. It is, however, slated to increase again due to shift in wind direction.
“Shift of wind direction for a limited period may bring the plume of smoke as upper wind speed is highly favorable. This may make a sudden jump in particulate pollutants for some time leading to a higher 24-hour average by Thursday. It is likely to increase the share of stubble-related intrusion by Thursday,” the ministry officials said.
A layer of smoky haze also lingered over Delhi-NCR on Wednesday, as air quality of the region hit ‘very poor’ levels at 343 micrograms per cubic metre due to contribution of stubble burning from the adjoining states and slow wind speed.
Delhi’s neighboring regions — Ghaziabad, Faridabad, Noida and Greater Noida — logged ‘very poor’ quality of air, while Gurugram recorded ‘poor’ category air. Ghaziabad and Greater Noida’s air quality remained the worst among all.
“Visibility in the region has dropped to 800m as against to 2,000m in the morning. There is a layer of pollutant in the atmosphere from the smoke emanating from stubble burning and local sources. There will be no respite for the next 2-3 days,” said the head of India Meteorological Department’s Regional Forecasting Centre, Kuldeep Srivastava.
Vijay Soni, scientist at the air pollution division of India Meteorological Department, told IANS that Punjab recorded 2,500 farm fires on Tuesday, whose smoke, combined with the low wind speed, has resulted in deterioration of air quality in the national capital and the surrounding regions.
“Transport of smoke caused by stubble burning in Punjab and air pollution are affecting India from north to south, even reaching the Arabian Sea,” the European Union’s Directorate-General for Defence Industry and Space said in a statement.

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