Air quality ‘satisfactory’ for first time in over three months

Air quality in the city improved to the “satisfactory” category of the air quality index (AQI) on Monday for the first time since September last year, after a gap of over three months.

Following spells of rain on Sunday and Monday, pollution levels dropped significantly, with Gurugram recording 65 on the CPCB’s AQI bulletin — down from 260 on the previous day and 336 on Saturday. The city had last witnessed “satisfactory” air quality on September 27, when the AQI was recorded at 82.

As per the official forecast, the favourable air quality is expected to last for at least two more days and pollution levels over the next week are expected to remain in the “moderate” to “poor” categories of the AQI.

Gurugram remained the least polluted city in the national capital region (NCR) on Monday, followed by Manesar, which also recorded satisfactory air (with 67 on the AQI, down from Sunday’s reading of 288). According to the data from the city’s air quality monitors, the concentration of PM2.5 in Gurugram ranged between 34 and 86ug/m3 over the course of the day. The safe limit, as per Indian standards, is 60ug/m3. Delhi, Faridabad, Noida, Ghaziabad and Greater Noida, meanwhile, all recorded “moderate” air quality, with AQIs ranging between 134 and 179.

“Winds have been originating from the east of NCR with speed of up to 20 and even 30kmph. This would typically push up pollution levels in the city, but in the event of rain, we have seen this kind of improvement for the first time in months. Since Gurugram and Manesar have seen cleaner air throughout the winter, it’s not surprising that the air is cleaner than in other parts of the NCR,” said Sachin Panwar, a city-based air quality scientist.

As per the early air quality warning system for Delhi-NCR, “Air quality… has improved significantly owing to rain and better wind conditions favourable for dispersion of pollutants. The air quality is likely to remain in the moderate to satisfactory category on 04.01.2021 and 05.01.2021. The air quality is likely to remain in the moderate to poor category on 06.01.2021.” Winds are expected to originate from the east or southeast of Delhi at speeds between 15-20 kmph, with a generally cloudy sky, thundershowers and moderate to dense fog in the morning, over the next two days.

While Gurugram’s automatic weather station did not capture any temperature or rainfall data over the past 24 hours, data from the IMD’s nearest AWS at Palam (in Delhi) showed the minimum temperature to be 12.3 degrees Celsius on Monday, while the maximum temperature stood at 20.4 degrees Celsius. As per Palam data, 5mm of rainfall had been received until 8am on the morning of January 4.

While these are warmer conditions than the region was experiencing just a few days ago, the IMD’s seven-day forecast for Gurugram predicts another cold wave around January 7, when the minimum temperature is expected to dip to about 9 degrees Celsius and maximum to 18 degrees Celsius.

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