Air quality in Delhi has continued to dip, even as the ruling Aam Aadmi Party and opposition BJP trade blame ahead of the civic body polls. The Air Quality Index at 1 pm was in the 400-500 range or "severe" category in several areas of the national capital.
With pollution levels at its highest since January, some areas in Delhi are hovering close to 500 in the index.
Amid worsening pollution levels in Delhi, the centre's air quality panel today directed the authorities in the National Capital Region to implement curbs such as a ban on construction and demolition activities under the Graded Response Action Plan stage III.
The concentration of PM2.5 (particulate matter up to 2.5 micrometres in diameter) is at 40 to 60 times the World Health Organisation's annual safe limit.
The latest forecast of air quality warns that it's set to worsen and remain in the "very poor" category for at least a couple of days, which can trigger health advisories.
Meanwhile, AAP workers today protested in front of Delhi Lieutenant Governor's office, claiming he purposely did not approve their 'Red Light on, Gaadi Off' campaign aimed towards reducing pollution. The LG has, however, shot back, saying AAP "lied" about the rollout date of the campaign.
AAP has often attacked the Lieutenant Governor, appointed by the union government, accusing him of acting in "political vendetta" on directions from the Centre's ruling BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Air quality in the broader National Capital Region has also deteriorated. At 1 pm, Delhi had an overall AQI of 400, Faridabad 396, Greater Noida 395, Noida 390, and Ghaziabad 380.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.
Experts say the deterioration in the quality of air is because of the wind direction and wind speed, which is causing the accumulation of pollutants coupled with an increase in incidents of farm fires.
Pollution around Diwali was the lowest in 7 years, as the weather conditions were a game changer. The air quality in the national capital started deteriorating from October 24 with the AQI slipping to the 'very poor' category from 'poor'.
Pollution levels crept up on the night of October 23 amid a drop in temperature and wind speed, and due to people lighting firecrackers and a rise in the number of farm fires.
Pollutants will continue to come in from Punjab and Haryana, and the wind will be extremely calm, thus the pollutants will remain suspended for longer.