Delhi-NCR in grip of season’s first smog episode, likely to be longest in 4 years: Study

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The first severe smog episode has hit Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) and is expected to last for another two days, green think-tank Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said on Wednesday.

Even though the seasonal smog in Delhi is intense, the average daily contribution of smoke from farm fires from the middle of October to November 8 has been the lowest in last four years, it said.

“Predictably, the season’s first episode has been triggered by the combined effect of unfavourable weather conditions (cool and calm winds and inversion), stubble burning and firecrackers,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy, CSE.

Compared to the first smog episode of previous four years, the current smog has matched the duration of the first smog of 2018 and 2020 season — both lasted six days. If conditions don’t improve, it might overtake the 2019 smog that lasted eight days, the CSE said.

The average intensity of the smog this year so far is 329 microgram per cubic metre per day, which is lower than that of the 2020 smog (by 7 per cent) and 2019 smog (by 3 per cent). It is more intense than the 2018 smog (about 9 per cent).

Delhi-Smog-NCR

Lingering on of this year’s smog for longer duration despite relatively windier local conditions might be due to the lack of pollution control measures in the city, the green think tank said.

“While very high concentrations of PM2.5 have hogged attention, the levels of gases ozone, CO or NO2 — have remained elevated during this smog episode. Also, the ratio of SO2 to NO2 increased on Diwali night indicating increased pollution load from firecrackers. The PM2.5 concentration on Diwali night (8 pm to 8 am) has been the most intense since 2017,” said Avikal Somvanshi, programme manager, Urban Lab, CSE.

This analysis is based on the real time data available from the current working air quality monitoring stations in Delhi-NCR and the larger Indo-Gangetic Plain.


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