Mumbai wakes up to smog, air quality worst since Diwali

MUMBAI: The city woke up to a thick blanket of haze on Saturday as pollution levels rose and visibility dropped, delaying local trains, flights and slowing down traffic on highways.

According to the weather bureau, the haze during early hours of the morning was fog and later, with the increase in pollutants getting suspended into the air, it intensified and turned into smog.

The pollution levels, measured by the air quality index (AQI), rose sharply, making Saturday the most polluted day in the city since Diwali this year. The city had witnessed a thick cover of smog on Friday too.

The rise in pollution also led to an increase in health problems for Mumbaiites. Doctors from Lilavati Hospital, Bandra, said at least 50 cases of lung-related ailments were treated between Friday and Saturday.

Doctors warned senior citizens, children and pregnant women against stepping outside and to avoid any outdoor activities till the haze settles.

Mumbai’s visibility level, which usually ranges between 10,000 and 20,000 metres, reduced on Saturday owing to a thin jacket of fog.

Air traffic control said early flights were delayed by 15 minutes as visibility dropped to 800 metres.

However, it rose to 1,300 metres by the afternoon. Sources from the airport said visibility dropped by 100 metres during the evening. Flight operations were unaffected as 1,000-metre visibility aids flight operations during take-off.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted foggy conditions on Sunday morning, too, unless wind speeds pick up over the city. “This is not uncommon for Mumbai, as two to three foggy days are recorded every year,” said Sunil Kamble, scientist, IMD Mumbai.

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