Delhi's pollution went from bad to worse in the last one week with the air quality index reaching a hazardous 999 in some parts of the city. The reason? Ground-level dust storms originating in Rajasthan and stretching across to Uttar Pradesh.
While Delhi also saw a few dust storms in the past couple of days, there was no rain.
Reports suggest that the capital will continue to have hazardous air in the coming week.
A PTI report quoted an India Meteorological Department as saying, "It is expected that dusty conditions will prevail in Delhi over the next three days. Major construction agencies, municipal corporations and Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) have been alerted to ensure water sprinkling, as required."
The dust storms have also reduced visibility in the city.
Head of the Met office at IGI Airport, RK Jenamani told The Indian Express, "Dust related visibility conditions over northwest India further worsened and occupied more areas on Wednesday. It covered areas across Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Delhi, plains of Uttarakhand and western UP. Visibility at the airport deteriorated. While the visibility was in the range of 1,500m to 2,000m on Tuesday, it further dipped to 800m to 1400m. Flight operations to smaller airports, where higher visibility is crucial, were affected."
Delhi's air pollution usually deteriorates during winters and poor air quality is unusual during this time of the year.
Hindustan Times cited data provided by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) that showed the PM10 level in Delhi at 823ug/m3 around 7pm on Wednesday, which is much higher than the safe limit.
The PTI report says that taking note of the situation, the Ministry of Environment has directed the Delhi administration to take action.
An official of the India Meteorological Department told The Indian Express that the city could get a slight respite in Friday when the westerly wind speed is supposed to drop off.