A day after Diwali, pollution levels in Delhi and its neighbouring areas soared as people defied the ban on firecrackers plummeting the air quality as the capital grapples with toxic air for weeks.
The air quality dipped to “severe” at several places across the city as the festival of lights was shrouded in smog – a major contributor of this being stubble burning in neighbouring states.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM 2.5 pollutant stood at 481 in Anand Vihar, 444 in IGI Airport area, 457 in ITO, and 414 in Lodhi Road area, all four in the ”severe” category, at 11 pm on Saturday, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data, news agency ANI reported.
Almost all areas in the city logged PM2.5 levels above 400 with many regions nearing the alarming 500-mark.
The average AQI in Delhi at 8am this morning is 468. Anything above 60 is considered unhealthy.
Sale and burning of firecrackers have been banned in Delhi to curb the pollution which has become an annual problem for the city in the later months. Breathing trouble, which is a major problem in coronavirus patients, was also a reason for the ban on crackers from November 9 to 30.
Residents complained about stinging eyes, sore throat and breathlessness as the city grappled with the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
Delhi recorded a 24-hour average AQI of 337 on Diwali last year (October 27), and 368 and 400 in the next two days. Thereafter, pollution levels remained in the “severe” category for three days.
This time, the India Meteorological Department has said that a fresh western disturbance could increase the wind speed and improve the air quality in Delhi-NCR after Diwali.
Light rain is likely today under the influence of a western disturbance. It is still unclear if it is enough to wash away pollutants, Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the IMD’s regional forecasting centre, said.
Ten people were arrested for selling firecrackers and in Delhi, officials said on Saturday.