Delhi and neighbouring cities were blanketed by toxic air for the third straight day after the ban on crackers was widely violated on Diwali. The national capital was among the 10 cities that saw the highest pollution levels in the country. A sharp increase in stubble burning in the last few days has also contributed to the rise in air pollution.
The Air Quality Index or AQI - as it is more commonly known as - hit the "severe" category in Delhi, and nearby cities - Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Faridabad.
The AQI was worst in Gurgaon (460), followed by Ghaziabad (458), Noida (455), Faridabad (449). Delhi's AQI stood at 436.
In the list of cities with the worst air quality, most cities were from Haryana and Uttar Pradesh where the air quality ranged from "very poor" to "poor", today's data shows.
After Diwali, the national capital has seen the worst air quality in the last few years. People have been complaining of breathlessness and itchy eyes. Experts have also been raising concern.
Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said he will write to his counterpart in the centre for an emergency meeting with ministers from neighbouring states over stubble burning. "We analysed data and it shows stubble burning has increased since Diwali. Air condition has become dangerous due to firecrackers and stubble burning. If it doesn't stop, then the danger of pollution will remain the same. We will be writing a letter to the central environment minister for an immediate emergency meeting to stop this," Mr Rai said, according to news agency ANI.
AIIMS chief Randeep Guleria told NDTV today that "bad air quality" amid the pandemic was "double trouble". "Covid affects lungs, air pollution causes inflammation and therefore lungs get doubly stressed out. This leads to more severe disease, causing higher hospital admissions and deaths," he said.
People with chronic diseases and children are more vulnerable to air pollution, Dr Naresh Trehan, Chairman and Managing Director, Medanta Hospitals, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI on Saturday.
"Air pollution is not only affecting lungs but also other parts of the body. Each person who has some chronic problems like heart disease will suffer hugely. Pollution directly affects the breathing of a person where you are taking in all these toxins to your lungs. Then they set up a full reaction in your body where your blood pressure can go up, your heartbeat can go up if you are already suffering from a condition of heart attacks," he said.