Over the last fortnight, the air quality in diverse Indian cities has been on a decline, a situation aggravated by the celebration of the Diwali festival and the subsequent ignition of firecrackers. The emissions and fumes resulting from these festive activities have led to an upsurge in pollution levels spanning several states.
Prominent urban hubs, such as Delhi (the national capital) and Mumbai (the financial capital), are contending with substantial pollution challenges. The Indo-Gangetic plain, which encompasses numerous cities, observed air quality levels ranging from ‘Severe’ to ‘Very Poor’ in the weeks leading up to Diwali. Nevertheless, a temporary improvement was noted just before the festival, attributed to Western disturbances.
The primary factors contributing to the escalation of pollution levels in the region include stubble burning and vehicular emissions. As of 6:30 am, two cities in Haryana, three in Uttar Pradesh, two in Bihar, one in Punjab, one in Rajasthan, and Delhi featured among the top 10 cities with the most compromised air quality. On the specified day, nine cities recorded “severe” Air Quality Index (AQI) levels, with Delhi securing the fourth position on the list based on a 24-hour average AQI.
According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) on November 13, out of 242 cities, none registered severe air quality. However, 53 cities had ‘very poor’ air quality, 85 cities had ‘poor’ air quality, 75 cities had ‘moderate’ air quality, and only 32 cities fell into the ‘satisfactory’ to ‘good’ range.
Real-time CPCB data disclosed that Bhagpat in Uttar Pradesh exhibited the highest pollution levels on the mentioned day, with an AQI of 423 at 6:30 am. Gurugram in Haryana closely followed with an AQI of 400, both categorized as ‘severe’ air quality.
Other cities with elevated pollution levels falling into the ‘very poor’ category on the same day included Delhi (AQI 384), Meerut in Uttar Pradesh (AQI 384), Noida in Uttar Pradesh (AQI 381), Bathinda in Punjab (AQI 374), Bharatpur in Rajasthan (AQI 371), Begasarai in Bihar (AQI 367), Chhapra in Bihar (AQI 366), and Rohtak in Haryana (AQI 365).
Additional cities experiencing heightened pollution levels included Hanumangarh in Rajasthan (AQI 364), Bhiwadi in Rajasthan (AQI 363), Dharuhera in Haryana (AQI 363), Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh (AQI 362), Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh (AQI 359), Siwan in Bihar (AQI 358), Hisar (AQI 356), Angul in Odisha (AQI 355), Ballabgarh in Haryana (AQI 352), Bahadurgarh in Haryana (AQI 347), Jind in Haryana (AQI 337), Purnia in Bihar (AQI 331), and Manesar in Haryana (AQI 330).