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Showers, wind clear air; Delhi breathes cleanest since Oct 19

Feb 02, 2024 04:46 AM IST

The 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) on Thursday was 177, compared to 392 on Wednesday.

Delhi breathed its cleanest air in more than a hundred days on Thursday as two days of rain and strong winds helped wash out pollutants that have clotted the city’s atmosphere for several weeks.

New Delhi, India - Feb. 1, 2024: People seen out during light drizzle and cold breeze at Kartavyapath in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, February 1, 2024. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times) (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)
New Delhi, India - Feb. 1, 2024: People seen out during light drizzle and cold breeze at Kartavyapath in New Delhi, India, on Thursday, February 1, 2024. (Photo by Sanchit Khanna/ Hindustan Times) (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

The Capital recorded a 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of 177 (moderate) at 4pm on Thursday, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), more than 200 points lower than 392 (very poor) on Wednesday and the lowest since 121 on October 19 last year.

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Read here: Delhi fulfils its February rain quota, more on the cards

With this, February snapped the streak of bad air that has dogged 2024 so far, with January this year far more polluted than usual. Indeed, the city’s average AQI last month was 355, the worst since a reading of 370 in January 2016.

CPCB classifies an AQI of 51 to 100 as “satisfactory”, between 101 and 200 as “moderate”, between 201 and 300 as “poor”, between 301 and 400 as “very poor” and over 400 as “severe”.

Delhi breathes cleanest since Oct 19
Delhi breathes cleanest since Oct 19

Forecasts show Delhi’s air quality is likely to remain “moderate” now for the next few days, with the likelihood of light rain over the weekend.

Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director, research and advocacy at the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) said that the city was missing strong winds for most of the winter, causing long periods where the air quality has remained “very poor”.

“We have seen this right from November till January now, where wind speeds have been fairly low. In the absence of rain or strong winds, pollutants will neither disperse or settle. We know Delhi’s emissions are fairly high and that did not allow air quality to improve over the last three months,” she said.

Forecasts by the Early Warning System (EWS) for Delhi – a forecasting model under the ministry of earth sciences said Delhi’s air should remain ‘moderate’ in the first week of February. “Delhi’s air quality is likely to be in the ‘moderate’ category from February 2 till February 4. The outlook for the subsequent six days also shows air quality is likely to be in the moderate category,” EWS said in its bulletin on Thursday.

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