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

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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 Delhi Traffic Police said heavy and medium goods vehicles, except those carrying essential goods, will not be allowed to enter Delhi from 11 pm on November 8. This is almost double the pollution levels of a year ago post Diwali, when the AQI was around 367. Readings above 500 in the index, which measures poisonous gases and toxic particulate matter in the air, are typically associated with serious aggravation of the heart and lungs.

The government has been unable to enforce a ban on bursting fireworks in most places.

India is home to 14 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world (WHO).

The festival also kept Delhi Fire Services officials on their toes as they responded to over 300 calls about fire incidents, triggered by firecrackers and LPG cylinder blast among others, including an incident in which two children were killed and two others were injured. This morning, the worst air was recorded by the centre in Bawana - 370, or "Very Poor" on the air quality index. Early morning at 1 am, smoke layer became thick and started to trap pollutants near the surface rapidly.

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The Supreme Court has allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. The overall AQI of the city was 11 times the permissible limit. The PM10 level was six times the permissable limit at 618 gm-3, according to SAFAR. Faridabad, Noida, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Gurugram, and Patna recorded "severe" air pollution with AQIs hovering well above 400 on Thursday night. According to the SAFAR, the moisture in the air on Wednesday was normal, thus reducing the pollution load slightly.

The deterioration in air quality is being witnessed despite the Supreme Court directing that only green firecrackers be lit and that too for two hours between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali.

The top court had directed the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and in case of violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the area would be held responsible.

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.

However, violations were reported from across Delhi, including areas like Anand Vihar, ITO, Jahangirpuri Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP Extension and Dwarka.

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