Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

, Volume 131, Issue 1, pp 267-277

First online:

An Analysis of the Annual and Seasonal Trends of Air Quality Index of Delhi

  • Manju MohanAffiliated withCentre for Atmospheric Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Hauz Khas Email author 
  • , Anurag KandyaAffiliated withCivil Engineering Department, Indian Institute of Technology, Hauz Khas

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The Air Quality Index (AQI) is an index for reporting daily air quality. A study on the annual and seasonal variations of Air Quality Index over a period of 9 years (1996–2004) based on daily averaged concentration data of criteria air pollutants has been conducted for Delhi. An attempt has been made to quantify the changes in the AQI on annual and seasonal (winter, summer, monsoon and post monsoon) basis for 9 years. Measurements for the seven monitoring sites (Nizamuddin, Ashok Vihar, Shahzada Baug, Shahadara, Janakpuri, Sirifort and ITO) in Delhi were analysed and trends were also compared amongst these sites. Maximum Operator Function method was used to compute the Air Quality Index of the above areas and percentage variations in different severity class is discussed which provides in depth analysis of the trends. The best air quality was depicted by Shahzada Baug followed by Shahdara, both of these were classified as industrial areas indicating that policy measures relating to the industries in the city during past years have helped in improving the air quality. The air quality in other areas have improved slightly in the span of nine years but still remains critical indicating continued rigorous efforts in this direction. Increased traffic density seems to have resulted into the worst air quality at ITO in the city amongst all the monitoring stations. There is a shift for the worst AQI in the city from winter to summer season in a time span of these nine years. Change of season for worst AQI from Winter to Summer may also be likely due to increased photochemical reactions playing major role with change in the nature of emissions imposed due to different control measures such as CNG implementation, significant shift to LPG in domestic sector etc. calling for a detailed study, those which started after the year 2000. After the year 2000, there is a significant increase in the Nitrogen-dioxide (NO2) concentration at all stations. ITO which has shown continuous exponential increase in pollution levels has first time showed a declining AQI trend in the year 2004 and one of the contributing factors could have been the Delhi metro (initiated in 2002) passing through congested neighbouring areas causing traffic decongestion here. In general, the areas which are farthest from metro route viz., Siri-fort, Nizamuddin, Janakpuri etc. did not record declining AQI in 2003 onwards as happened with stations closer to Metro route such as Ashok Vihar and ITO. An attempt has been made to quantify the reasons that lead to the changes in the values of the AQI.


Air quality index Maximum operator Seasonal trends Annual trends Criteria pollutants