A man rides a cycle past the India Gate on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India on Monday. Reuters/Adnan Abidi
Air pollution in some parts of the Indian capital deteriorated early on Monday to the worst recorded level, officials said, a day after revellers set off fireworks to mark Diwali in celebrations that were more subdued than in previous years.
The air quality index, which measures the concentration of poisonous particulate matter, touched 500 in several parts of Delhi, including the international airport, in the early hours of Monday, the maximum recorded by the government’s Central Pollution Control Board.
Anything above 401 is classified as “severe”. Air pollution at that level can seriously affect those with existing respiratory illnesses, and even those who are healthy.
The levels have remained above 300 since early Monday morning, or “very poor,” which can cause respiratory illness after prolonged exposure.
Residents woke up to a pall of grey left behind by acrid smoke from fireworks that remained trapped in the city’s cool air.
The overall air quality index across the city, however, was at its lowest in three years due to favourable wind speeds and some reduction in the use of fireworks during Diwali, according to SAFAR, a government-run monitor.
PM 2.5, or tiny particulate matter that is less than 2.5 microns in diameter, are considered particularly dangerous because they lodge deep in the lungs. PM 10 is another pollutant that is inhaled when people breathe through their mouths.
The Supreme Court had ordered residents to only use safe and environmentally friendly fireworks for a maximum of two hours, and only in designated areas such as parks, but the law was violated in several parts of the city, residents said.
“Delhi does it again!! Now let’s all inhale the poisonous gases and tell each other how wonderful our Diwali was,” said Twitter user Divya Sharma.
Delhi will restrict the use of private vehicles on the capital’s roads under an “odd-even” scheme based on vehicle number plates from next week.
“May the light from the festivities around the world shine a blessing of love and hope on us all.”
“The installation was built with 300,000 recycled plastic bottles in the form a giant Question Mark (‘?’), ‘Why’ is an attempt to start conversations around the growing problem of plastic pollution all over the world.”
With a thick smog engulfing the Delhi airport and areas around it, as many as 32 flights were on Sunday diverted to nearby cities.
Expatriates living in the UAE were elated as their family members, colleagues, friends stuck in other countries are now able to return as the UAE has lifted restriction on incoming flights from Monday onwards.
The Committee explained that the new guidelines take into account the exceptional situations of some categories of people including people of determination, children, and those with chronic respiratory conditions.
The UAE will today (Monday) start receiving residents with valid residence visas, who were stranded abroad due to coronavirus pandemic from various countries.