Delhi Air

File photo of a clear day in Delhi, in November 2016. For the first time in three years, residents of Delhi and the NCR will breathe clean air in December. (IANS photo)

NEW DELHI — Air quality in Delhi and the north capital region has finally improved to "moderate," thanks to meteorological conditions, and pollution monitoring agencies say this is the first December in three years during which the national capital has inhaled "normal" air.

On Dec. 7, Delhi and the surrounding region saw a "moderate" air quality rating with the Air Quality Index at 194 in Delhi at 4:00 p.m. It was consistent until 9:00 p.m.

This is the first time that normal air quality has been seen across the Delhi-NCR since Oct. 7 this year, and the first December in three years to have normal air, officials said.

"The wind speeds are up and it also drizzled at places, beside for past two days, we ensured curbing of extra emissions from burning of garbage, controlling fire at landfill sites and by water sprinkling," A. Sudhakar, member secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board, told IANS.

He added that efforts were increased over the last two days, after Sri Lankan cricket players – in Delhi for the Test series against India – were seen on the field wearing masks.

"Officials were posted at all the landfill sites to actively check any incident of fire and it was doused within hours. Earlier, it would take civic bodies 48 hours to douse such a fire. Besides, the stubble burning totally stopped," Sudhakar added. 

On Dec. 7, the most polluted regions, including Vasundhra in Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad, Anand Vihar in east Delhi and Delhi Technical University in north Delhi, saw normal air quality, ranging between "poor to moderate" for the first time over 70 days, according to records.

The level of major pollutant PM2.5, or particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, at 9:00 p.m. was 88 across Delhi, while in the Delhi NCR it was 87, as compared with 254 and 261 Dec. 5.

The safe limit for PM2.5 according to international standards is 25 micrograms per cubic meters and 60 units as per national standards.

"There could be more Decembers, but we began monitoring in 2015, since then it's for the first time when air quality has reached moderate," the official added.

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