A day after millions celebrated Diwali across the country, pollution levels in Delhi and its neighbouring areas soared as people defied the ban on firecrackers. The air quality in the national capital plunged to "severe category", worsening the pollution caused by burning farm waste in neighbouring states.
The average AQI in Delhi at 8am stood at 468. Doctors and scientists say that short term exposures to high levels of PM 2.5 can cause severe health problems including worse coronavirus infections. It can also worsen blood pressure and asthma.
Almost all the areas in the city logged PM2.5 levels above 400 with many regions nearing the alarming 500-mark. The Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM 2.5 pollutant stood crossed 800 in most parts of the capital on the night of Diwali.
Sale and burning of firecrackers have been totally banned in the National Capital Region (NCR) from November 9 midnight to November 30 midnight over the horrific pollution levels.
Earlier this month, a bench led by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel clarified that the direction will apply to all cities and towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November 2019 was in "poor" and above categories.
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.
Amid rise in coronavirus cases, surge in pollution levels in Delhi has emerged as a major concern. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is likely to meet Home Minister Amit Shah to discuss these concerns, souces have said.