Delhi’s Air Quality Set To Worsen After Clean Spell In October

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New Delhi:  Even as the national capital breathed the cleanest air in four years because of intermittent rain and winds last month, authorities have warned that air quality is set to drop sharply in November. Delhi witnessed the cleanest air as the delayed end to the monsoon and a sharp pick-up in wind speeds ensured the concentration of hazardous, small airborne particles known as PM2.5 in a cubic metre of air averaged 72 in October, according to Reuters.

This figure came down from an average concentration of 126 recorded in October 2020 – 25 times over the World Health Organization’s safe limit – according to data gathered by the state-run Central Pollution Control Board. Typically, it is that time of the year when air quality starts to take a turn for the worse.

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Factors such as falling temperatures, a drop-off in wind speed, and farmers torching crop stubble are expected to turn the air hazardous.

“Because of frequent rains, most farmers didn’t get to burn crop stubble, and now they have an even shorter window to dispose of crop waste,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, an executive director at the Centre for Science and Environment think tank.

The capital city’s air pollution works as a reminder of the challenges India tackles amid the UN COP26 summit in Scotland where countries have come together to agree on strategies to fight global warming.

At the global summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India would achieve a net-zero carbon emission target by 2070.  While scientists said India’s target is at least two decades late.

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