Several parts of Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and other surrounding areas of the National Capital Region received light rainfall on the intervening night of Thursday and Friday, bringing a much-needed respite from the toxic air quality in the NCR.
Delhi received the showers at a time when the city government is planning to induce artificial rain on November 20-21 through cloud seeding to tackle the severe air pollution.
The visuals from the Kartavya Path, ITO and the Delhi-Noida border showed light to moderate-intensity rain showers.
The Regional Weather Forecasting Centre (RWFC) predicted light intensity intermittent rainfall over and adjoining areas of many places of Delhi and NCR, Sohana, Rewari, Aurangabad, Hodal (Haryana) Bijnaur, Sakoti Tanda, Hastinapur, Chandpur, Daurala, Meerut, Modinagar, Kithor and Amroha on Friday morning.
It also said Garhmukteshwar, Pilakhua, Hapur, Gulaoti, Siyana, Bulandshahar, Jahangirabad, Anupshahar, Shikarpur, Khurja, Pahasu, Debai, Narora, Gabhana, Jattari, Khair, Nandgaon and Barsana in Uttar Pradesh, while Bhiwari, Khairthal, Alwar, Viratnagar, Nagar, Deeg, Laxmangarh, Rajgarh in Rajasthan are expected to receive to light showers during the same period.
According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), while the average AQI in Delhi's Anand Vihar was recorded at 462 (severe), it improved to the ‘moderate’ category on Friday morning.
Similarly, while the average AQI remained in the severe category in RK Puram at 446, the CPCB data showed the air quality saw a drastic improvement (satisfactory) in the morning.
The average AQI reading in Noida Sector-62 stood at 425, while the minimum was recorded at 56 (satisfactory).
The Gurugram also saw a sudden improvement in the air quality, with the AQI clocking at 50 (good) at 6am, the average AQI remained 'very poor' at 399.
There are six categories of AQI, namely ‘Good’ (0-50), ‘Satisfactory’ (50-100), ‘Moderately polluted’ (100-200), ‘Poor’ (200-300), ‘Very Poor’ (300-400), and ‘Severe’ (400-500).
Delhi's 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI), recorded at 4pm every day, stood at 437 on Thursday, worsening from 426 on Wednesday. The AQI map prepared by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) showed clusters of red dots (indicating hazardous air quality) spread across the Indo-Gangetic plains.
Neighbouring Ghaziabad (391), Gurugram (404), Noida (394), Greater Noida (439) and Faridabad (410) also reported very bad air quality.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government has also fielded ministers to ensure the implementation of anti-pollution measures. As part of the inspection process, several Delhi ministers were seen on Thursday inspecting different areas and borders connecting Delhi to neighbouring states.
Currently, Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been implemented in the national capital after the city's air quality plummeted to the 'severe plus' category.
The government on Wednesday rescheduled the December winter break of all schools. The winter break in the schools will now be from November 9 to November 18.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai said the entry of app-based taxis into the national capital has been banned in accordance with the Supreme Court's orders.
He also said the odd-even car-rationing scheme will be implemented in the city after the top court reviews its effectiveness and issues an order. The matter will next be heard on Friday.
On Tuesday, the apex court questioned the effectiveness of the Delhi government's car-rationing scheme, aimed at curbing vehicular pollution, and referred to it as "all optics".
Anticipating further deterioration of the air quality post-Diwali, Rai had on Monday announced that the flagship scheme, which permits cars to operate on alternate days based on the odd or even last digit of their registration numbers, would be enforced between November 13 and November 20.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences' Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi-NCR, the region is likely to experience "very poor" to "severe" air quality for another five to six days.
Delhi govt ready to bear cost of artificial rain to combat pollution, can do it by Nov 20 with Centre's support: Officials
The Delhi government has decided to bear the entire cost of artificial rain to combat hazardous air pollution in the city and directed the chief secretary to present the government's views before the Supreme Court on Friday, news agency PTI reported citing officials.
If the Centre supports the decision, the Delhi government can arrange for the first phase of artificial rain in the city by November 20.
"The chief secretary has been directed to inform the Supreme court that the Delhi government has in principle agreed, based on the advice of an IIT-Kanpur team, to bear the cost of Phase 1 and Phase 2 pilots (totalling ₹13 Crore) for carrying out artificial rain," a senior government functionary said.
The Arvind Kejriwal government plans to induce artificial rain through cloud seeding technology to combat air pollution in Delhi, Rai said on Wednesday after meeting the IIT-Kanpur team.