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New Delhi's Air Quality Deteriorates Amidst Impending Heat Wave

India's capital faces 'poor' air quality due to dry heat, with temperatures over 40C and mitigation efforts underway.

By Athena Xu

5/15, 12:24 EDT

Key Takeaway

  • New Delhi's air quality worsens to 'poor' due to dry heat, dust, and regional agricultural fires.
  • Impending heat wave with temperatures over 40C expected to exacerbate air quality issues ahead of May 25 national elections.
  • Authorities implement dust control, ban on waste burning, and water sprinkling as mitigation measures.

Deteriorating Air Quality

Dry conditions and high temperatures are exacerbating air quality issues in New Delhi and its surrounding areas, leading to a series of actions by local authorities to mitigate the situation. The federal environment ministry has reported that the air quality in the national capital region has been categorized as ‘poor’ for the last three days. This classification is part of India's Air Quality Index, where a score of 201-300 is deemed ‘poor,’ and a score of up to 50 is considered ‘good.’ The ministry attributes the decline in air quality to suspended dust in the area, further aggravated by forest fires and the burning of crop residue in neighboring states.

Heat Wave Warning

The India Meteorological Department has issued a warning about an impending heat wave expected to affect the country’s northwest, including Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, parts of Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, starting May 16. Temperatures in the capital have already surpassed 40C (104F), raising concerns ahead of the national elections scheduled for May 25. The combination of high temperatures and dry conditions is contributing to the worsening air quality, posing health risks and environmental concerns.

Mitigation Measures

In response to the deteriorating air quality and the forecasted heat wave, authorities have implemented several mitigation measures. The federal environment ministry has directed local governments to deploy water sprinklers on city roads to help settle the dust. Additionally, there is a push to curb the burning of municipal waste, a practice that contributes significantly to air pollution. Dust-control measures at road construction sites are also being enforced more strictly to prevent further air quality degradation. These actions are part of a broader effort to manage the environmental impact of the current weather conditions and human activities contributing to air pollution.