The task force led by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has advised people to minimise outdoor exposure for the next three to five days and avoid using private vehicles, with Delhi’s air quality index slipping into the severe category. Witnessing its second-highest pollution level this year, the Delhi AQI was severe on Sunday, and authorities said unfavourable meteorological conditions were likely to keep the air quality in the severe category for the next couple of days.

While the CPCB data showed the overall air quality index (AQI) at 446, the Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) gave a much higher AQI of 471. The CPCB-led task force held a meeting on Saturday in response to the high PM2.5 (fine particulate matter in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometre) levels which climbed to the severe plus emergency category. Exposure to PM2.5 pollutants can lead to diseases like cancer and increases chances of stroke. A number of recommendations were made to the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority at the meeting.

According to the IMD, prolonged period of light winds and low temperature was likely to continue for the next three to five days, resulting in poor dispersion of pollutants and the current severe air quality might continue for the next two to three days.

CBCB recommendations to SC-appointed Environment Pollution Control Authority

1. Agencies should intensify ground actions to enforce the measures already in place, particularly controlling emissions from vehicles and the burning of biomass.

2. Agencies concerned should increase surveillance to find industrial waste dumping or burning, especially in hotspots vulnerable to high pollution level

3. Water sprinkling and mechanised sweeping should be intensified and traffic police should ensure smooth flow of traffic, including during long holidays.

4. People should avoid using private vehicles, particularly diesel vehicles, and minimise outdoor exposure for the next three to five days, especially for those with respiratory illness