New Delhi: Around Diwali time, Delhi-NCR is expected to see severe air quality. But only the festival is not to be blamed; unfavourable weather conditions and the ongoing crop-residue burning in Punjab and Haryana are the other reasons why the air quality will continue to deteriorate next week. (Also read: EPCA Mulls Ban on Private Vehicles) Also Read - Increased Testing, Early Hospitalisation Can Curb COVID-19 in Delhi-NCR: Home Minister Shah

If forecasts are to be believed, Delhi’s air is expected to be in the ‘very poor’ category till Saturday. “On Sunday, an increase in moisture in the air is expected because of an active western disturbance over Himachal Pradesh. An increase in humidity increases the amount of pollutants that can accumulate in the air. Added to that are the calm winds close to the surface. All these factors are expected to increase the concentration of pollutants, especially particulate matter,” a senior official at the India Meteorological Department (IMD) was quoted as saying by The Indian Express. Also Read - Heavy Rain Lashes Parts of Delhi-NCR, Brings Much-needed Relief

Scientists at the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said the contribution of crop residue burning is decreasing. This observation is corroborated by NASA scientist Hiren Jethva who analysed past trends of crop-residue burning. According to the analysis, stubble burning was to be at its peak on November 1 and will reduce thereon. The fires are expected to stop by the end of the month. Also Read - Delhi, Adjoining Areas Lashed by Heavy Rain, Strong Winds

In an earlier analysis, Jethva said that the number of fires was lesser this year as compared to the last. On Thursday, the air quality index (AQI) for Delhi was recorded at 393, putting air in the ‘very poor’ category. Faridabad, Gurugram and Noida, however, recorded ‘severe’ air quality.

Meanwhile, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has blamed stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana for the rising air pollution in the NCR, besides accusing the Centre of not providing straw management machines to farmers.