Festive firecrackers worsen Delhi's air quality to "severe emergency" category

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On 6 November, a day before Diwali, Delhi's air quality was 418 which is "hazardous" at 11am. Pollution levels expected to be higher on Thursday.

After a slight improvement on Diwali, Delhi's pollution level skyrockets to "severe" levels on Thursday midnight.

Dutta, however, corroborated Rudra's statement saying the high air quality index was not exclusively due to bursting of firecrackers, but due to present weather conditions as well. But we breathe 10,000 litres of air everyday and don't bother about the air we breathe, " he says. The higher the AQI score, the worse the air. Delhites woke up to heavy smog causing much difficulty to the masses.

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.

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered "good", 51 and 100 "satisfactory", 101 and 200 "moderate", 201 and 300 "poor", 301 and 400 "very poor", and 401 and 500 "severe". Authorities sprinkled water in ITO, Rohini, Dwarka, Ring Road and other areas of the national capital to decrease dust pollution. "We have been using firecrackers to celebrate Diwali but it costs us with massive impact on public health".

Dahiya called for long-term solutions and mass awareness campaigns instead of focusing only on a few days in the year. A temporary ban on all construction works has already been imposed in Delhi.

Coal-based power stations in the Indian capital region were also shut down.

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In Uttar Pradesh, a cover of smog could be seen in capital Lucknow and all prominent cities. The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 86 per cent.

As State governments wring their hands over how to solve a problem like air pollution, the grim truth is that pollution is not just at our doorsteps, but inside our homes as well.

A task-force under the federal pollution control board was scheduled to meet to assess the situation, a city government spokesman told Reuters.

Violations were also recorded in Mumbai, Kolkata, Jaipur and other major cities, said media reports.

The concentration of PM2.5 and PM10, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 mm and 10mm, remained in "severe-plus" or "severe" levels.

While there is no respite from worsening air quality any time soon, people must take necessary steps to avoid exposure to pollution, specially children and the elderly.

Each year, smoke from festival firecrackers significantly adds to pollution levels in Delhi and its satellite cities, resulting a haze that can linger for days as wind speeds drop in the cooler weather.