Delhi's air quality turns 'severe' as people defy firecracker ban

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15 Nov 2020: Delhi's air quality turns 'severe' as people defy firecracker ban

Pollution levels in Delhi and its neighboring areas spiked as several celebrated the festival of Diwali on Saturday night.

Delhi's air quality worsened to 'severe' as many burst firecrackers to celebrate Diwali, despite a ban on their sale and use in the National Capital Region (NCR).

Pollution levels had remained 'very poor' Saturday morning due to farm fires in neighboring states and calm winds.

Details: Delhi's AQI stood at 468 Sunday morning

Delhi recorded an average Air Quality Index of 468 at 8 am on Sunday, NDTV reported. An AQI between 401-500 falls in the 'severe' category while a reading between 0-50 is considered 'good.'

Nearly all areas in the city recorded PM2.5 levels above 400, with several regions nearing the 500 mark. On Diwali night, the AQI for PM2.5 had crossed 800 in most regions.

Firecracker ban: NGT bans sale/use of firecrackers till November-end

On November 9, the National Green Tribunal had ordered a ban on the sale or use of firecrackers effective midnight the same day till November 30 in NCR, and parts of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Haryana.

The Commission for Air Quality Management Friday directed the Central Pollution Control Board and states to ensure there is no lapse in the implementation of the NGT's directions.

Concerns: High pollution levels linked to increased risk of COVID-19 fatality

Experts say even short-term exposure to high levels of PM2.5 can lead to severe health issues.

Further, high pollution levels may also increase the risk of COVID-19 fatality.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal—who had banned firecrackers ahead of the NGT order—has blamed rising pollution levels for the "third wave" of COVID-19. Reportedly, he is likely to meet Home Minister Amit Shah on the matter.

Forecast: Air quality likely to improve soon

The India Meteorological Department's said a fresh western disturbance will likely increase wind speed, improving Delhi's air post-Diwali.

Light rain is also expected on Sunday, however, it remains unclear if it would be enough to wash away the pollutants, said IMD's regional forecasting center head Kuldeep Srivastava.

Delhi's air will improve significantly by November 16, IMD's environment research center head VK Soni has said.