Diwali fireworks push air pollution to ‘severe’ level in India’s capital

Delhi air quality shoots to 'hazardous' category as residents flout Diwali firecracker curbs

Delhi air quality shoots to 'hazardous' category as residents flout Diwali firecracker curbs

It was a foggy morning in the national capital on Thursday with the minimum temperature recorded at 10.5°C, three notches below normal.

A municipal worker with her daughter leaves after sweeping the India Gate area as a thick lawyer of pollution haze hangs a day after Diwali festival, in New Delhi, India, on November 8, 2018.

India's Supreme Court last month ruled that only firecrackers that emit less smoke and soot could be sold in the city, in an effort to limit pollution over the festival period.

The air quality in Delhi has reached "severe plus emergency" category following Diwali celebrations. The AQI rose from 281 at 7 pm to 291 an hour later and by 10 pm, it was 296, said the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). Delhi needs an "air quality manager" who has a clearly defined power.

"The Supreme Court order on fireworks was not followed and health warnings from the government were limited to few newspapers and some websites", said Greenpeace campaigner Sunil Dahiya. The US Embassy in the Delhi - which according to the World Health Organization is the most polluted city on Earth - said its readings touched 526.

"This scenario is likely to hold the locally generated crackers emissions within the NCT, slowing down the dispersion, resulting in increased levels of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution", it added. Faridabad, Noida, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Gurugram, and Patna recorded "severe" air pollution with AQIs hovering well above 400 on Thursday night. A "severe plus emergency" level AQI essentially means that even healthy people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on prolonged exposure. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to the advisory issued by SAFAR.

The Supreme Court had earlier allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8pm to 10pm only on Diwali in the Delhi-NCR and the sale of "green crackers" by the licensed vendors but the ruling was smoked up in the air by the Delhiites.

On Wednesday night Delhites largely defied a court order and set off an huge barrage of smoke-spewing firecrackers to celebrate the major Hindu festival of Diwali, sending pollution levels soaring.

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