GURUGRAM: The Millennium City remained the country's second most polluted city for 24 hours with Air Quality Index (AQI) reported at 337 between Wednesday and Thursday.
The most polluted city was Gaya with AQI recorded at 352, while the third most polluted city was Lucknow with AQI level at 321. The AQI in Delhi, on the other hand, was recorded at 264.
While officials blamed dust storm from Rajasthan for increase in the air pollution levels, activists blamed increase in construction activity. "North-westerly winds are bringing in dust storm from Rajasthan. That is why, an increase in fine particles (PM2.5) has been noticed, which led to an increase in AQI. Other pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide and carbon monoxide remained were well under prescribed standard," said an HSPCB (Haryana State Pollution Control Board) official.
Experts blamed widespread construction activities arounds the national highways. "Huge construction activity is going around national highway-8 and Golf Course Road. The construction activity not only increases dust pollution, but also traffic congestion. Green cover around the national highway has been destroyed. All these factors are making Gurgaon one of the most polluted city in the country," said Niranjan Raje, a member of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA).
Meanwhile Met department said wind speed is expected to go up in the next few days. "Pollution levels generally come down with increase in the wind speed, however that is not the case this year, " said a Met official.