Delhi Pollution: Air quality 'severe' as national capital chokes

Delhi Pollution: Air quality 'severe' as national capital chokes

Delhi Pollution: Air quality 'severe' as national capital chokes

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) on Thursday said that the air quality in the national capital and neighbouring cities were still very bad.

The air quality in Delhi has reached "severe plus emergency" category following Diwali celebrations. These figures were still lower than the PM 2.5 level seen in 2016, which was 168 µg/m3, said Beig.

A level of 50 or less is considered healthy.

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

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Unsafe levels of smog shrouded Delhi and surrounding areas on Thursday after revelers flouted a ban on fireworks - especially firecrackers - to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali. "It is insane", Pranav Yadav, a 19-year-old student wearing a pollution mask told AFP.

In gross violation of the Supreme Court order, people in several areas of Delhi burst firecrackers until at least midnight, two hours after the 10 pm deadline.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting firecrackers only for two hours on Diwali in Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) and permitted manufacturing and sale of only "green crackers" with low emission of light, sound and smoke.

Authorities have been reluctant to ban fireworks to avoid offending members of the majority Hindu community.

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Seasonal burning of crop stubble and smoke from fireworks let off to celebrate the Hindu festival of Diwali on November 7 have aggravated already high smog levels in the past few days from vehicle emissions, industrial gases and construction work. Sunil Dahiya, a senior campaigner with Greenpeace India, said religious fervour was one of the reasons why people still let off fireworks despite mounting health concerns. Activists say the apparent lack of concern about the pollution gives federal and local politicians the cover they need for failing to adequately address the problem.

India's Supreme Court ruled last month that only environmentally friendly fireworks - that emit less smoke and soot - can be sold in Delhi, in a bid to cut the smog that has scarred the city's global reputation.

Adding to the smog has been smoke from the surrounding countryside, where farmers at this time of the year burn the stubble in their fields to prepare for winter sowing.

Doctors have said the impact of air pollution on public health can be compared to smoking 15-20 cigarettes a day.

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For a second year, New Delhi's chief minister has likened the city to a "gas chamber".

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