The air quality in Delhi dipped to the severe category this morning after a slight improvement a day earlier. The situation has worsened in Mumbai too since it debuted as among the world’s most polluted cities last weekend.
A blanket of toxic smog covers Delhi and surrounding cities with schools being shut and the stricter odd-even rule set to make a comeback after four years.
The overall air quality index (AQI) in Delhi was recorded at 418 this morning. Some of the worst-affected areas were Punjabi Bagh (460), Narela (448), Bawana (462), Anand Vihar (452), and Rohini (451).
The situation isn’t any better in Noida, Gurugram and other surrounding cities. Noida average AQI this morning was 409, Gurugram 370, Faridabad (396) and Ghaziabad (382).
Mumbai recorded an AQI of 165 this morning.
A cocktail of factors including vehicular emissions and stubble burning are being held responsible for the air pollution in Delhi, where authorities have raised the pollution alert to the highest level.
Stage-4 of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), a set of anti-pollution guidelines, has been invoked and diesel trucks and construction activities have been banned in the national capital.
The odd-even rule, under which the vehicular traffic is restricted based on their registration number, will be implemented on the day after Diwali for a week.
Supreme Court, however, is not convinced with the odd-even rule and called such measures “mere optics”. It has directed state governments in the National Capital Region to take steps to stop stubble burning, stressing that the choking air quality is responsible for the “murder of people’s health”.
The top court has also clarified that its 2021 order allowing only the use of green firecrackers will apply across the country, and not just Delhi-NCR. For Mumbai residents, the Bombay High Court has set a 7-10 pm timeframe for fireworks during Diwali.