Days before the Arvind Kejriwal government in Delhi implements the odd-even method in a bid to reduce air pollution, the capital has recorded poor air quality on Thursday for the first time this season. The Central Pollution Control Board has informed that the Air Quality Index, based on 33 air quality monitoring centres, was at 211. AQI between 201 to 300 is considered as poor. Indications of increased fire activity during the last 48 hours are visible from satellite imagery, and further deterioration of AQI is expected for the next two days, the CPCB added.
According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the southwest monsoon has withdrawn from northwestern parts of the country and conditions are becoming favourable for further withdrawal from parts of northwest India and adjoining central India during the next four to five days. The late monsoon withdrawal is not good for air quality in north India, it said. "During the 3rd to 4th week of October, the temperature will also start to cool. The anticyclone, which persists as part of the withdrawal, associated with clear skies and sinking motion will make the atmosphere very stable beneath means significantly calm surface winds," SAFAR said.
Both will lead to stagnant weather conditions like low wind speeds, descending air and compressed boundary layer, which favour rapid fine particulate matter formation and accumulation of pollutants. It said the situation becomes bad if it is encountered with any additional internal (firecrackers) or external (stubble burning) emission source. "In a landlocked city like Delhi, it may lead to rapid accumulation and may trigger high pollution events. However, if local emissions are controlled it will be a good check to observe and avoid air quality crises," it added.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced last month that the odd-even vehicle rule is all set to return to the national capital from November 4 to November 15. He also said that the move is expected to reduce pollution in the area by 13-15%. In the odd-even scheme, vehicles whose registration number ends on even digits are allowed on even dates and those with odd digits will throng on odd dates. The timing for the odd even scheme in previous phases was from 8 am to 8 pm. The violations of the scheme were fined up to Rs 2000. The Kejriwal government also exempted two-wheelers, women-only vehicles, CNG, hybrid and electric vehicles, emergency vehicles and VIPs in the previous phases. However, Delhi CM has announced that they will exempt only emergency vehicles this time.
Apart from the implementation of the Odd-Even scheme, Kejriwal also announced a list of measures to fight pollution in the national capital. He said that Delhi will celebrate a Pollution-free Diwali without the burning of crackers. A massive laser show on Choti Diwali will be held. Kejriwal added: "The laser show will have free entry so that everyone can celebrate Diwali together and we hope people won't use firecrackers after that." He also said that the government will procure masks for the public on a massive scale and that they will be made available to the public, free of cost. His action plan also includes a dedicated helpline that will also be set up which will help people plant more trees, identification of 12 hotspots in Delhi which are categorised as heavily polluted areas and mechanised sweeping.