Delhi recorded its best air quality on Diwali day in eight years on Sunday, though pollution levels may rise due to burning of firecrackers and low night temperatures.
Delhiites experienced clear skies and abundant sunshine and the city’s 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 218 at 4 pm, the best in at least three weeks.
Delhi recorded an AQI of 312 on Diwali last year, 382 in 2021, 414 in 2020, 337 in 2019, 281 in 2018, 319 in 2017 and 431 in 2016, according to Central Pollution Control Board data.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, 401 and 450 ‘severe’ and above 450 ‘severe plus’.
Saturday’s 24-hour average AQI stood at 220, the lowest for the day before Diwali in eight years.
Delhi’s air quality improved sharply just ahead of Diwali this year. The improvement can be attributed to intermittent rainfall on Friday and wind speeds favourable for the dispersion of pollutants.
To put this into perspective, Thursday’s 24-hour average AQI was recorded at 437.
The city experienced ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’ air quality for two weeks starting October 28 with a suffocating haze lingering over the national capital during the period.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had earlier predicted a marginal improvement in the air quality just ahead of Diwali, owing to favourable meteorological conditions, including light rain under the influence of a western disturbance.
A western disturbance brought rain over most parts of northwest India, including Punjab and Haryana, effectively reducing the contribution of smoke from stubble burning to Delhi’s air pollution.