Mustafa Mohammed, a student and cycling enthusiast, said he could feel the air quality dip drastically as he set out on Thursday to the India Gate in the heart of the city. The quality of air in Pitampura, Airport, Terminal 3 and Delhi University stood at 679, 481 and 801 respectively. As with the annual battle Diwali pollution, few believed any legal edicts will be enforced.
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. AQI above 500 falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category. Faridabad, Noida, Ghaziabad, Lucknow, Gurugram, and Patna recorded "severe" air pollution with AQIs hovering well above 400 on Thursday night.
The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals.
The indices mostly measure the concentration of tiny poisonous particulate matter, or PM 2.5, particles that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which can be carried deep into the lungs.
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The period following Diwali a year ago saw hospitals inundatedwith people suffering the effects of air pollution.
The apparent lack of concern about the toxic air - whether through ignorance or apathy - gives politicians the cover they need for failing to address the problem, say environmental activists and others. In recent weeks Delhi doctors have reported an increase in the number of patients with respiratory problems due to a rise in pollution levels from burning crop residue, vehicle exhausts and industrial gases.
In 2017, official data showed the PM10 level reached 595 µgm-3 and PM2.5 was 407 µgm-3.
The overall AQI was 10 times the permissible limit.
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The sharp spike in pollution is caused by the rampant burning of firecrackers that has led to the formation of a smoky layer across the national capital and drastically reduced visibility, authorities said.
Twenty three areas in Delhi recorded "severe" air quality while eight recorded "very poor" quality air, according to Central Pollution Control Board.
The court had asked the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and said in case of any violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of court.
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