Hours after Diwali celebrations, a thick haze enveloped Delhi-NCR as the air quality Thursday morning plunged to "hazardous" - Anand Vihar and areas around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium recorded 999 AQI and Chanakyapuri 459 - exposing people to major health risks. This is almost double the pollution levels of past year post Diwali, when the AQI was around 367. It said it has seized over 7,900 kg of illegal firecrackers, including 2,500 kgs on the day of Diwali, since Supreme Court ordered a ban on the sale of old crackers on October 23.
Early morning ambient air quality readings in Delhi - the world's most polluted major city, according to the World Health Organisation - touched 526, according to the U.S. embassy in the city which independently monitors pollution levels.
The overall AQI of the city was 11 times the permissable limit.
Last month, in a bid to control pollution, the Supreme Court allowed the use of "green" firecrackers for Diwali but only if they were let off between 8-10 pm.
For a second year, New Delhi's chief minister has likened the city to a "gas chamber".
The Delhi police said it has registered over 550 cases and arrested more than 300 people for violating the court's order.
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According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the PM 2.5 level on Friday morning was 272 (severe) and PM 2.5 level was 422 (very poor).
Two federal government pollution indices showed air at "very poor" and "severe" levels, indicating that prolonged exposure could lead to respiratory illnesses.
"This scenario is likely to hold the locally generated crackers emissions within the NCT, slowing down the dispersion, resulting in increased levels of PM2.5 and PM10 pollution", it added. According to the SAFAR, the moisture in the air on Wednesday was normal, thus reducing the pollution load slightly.
The capital city was followed by Kolkata with recording the same AQI.
Admitting that violations were observed, police said it was manually not possible to monitor every incident considering the population of the city and a complete ban on firecrackers can't be imposed till the entire community is willing to join hands.