Delhi continues to grapple with toxic air as the air quality turned “severe” across several places in the national capital.
A day after Diwali, Delhi was covered in a thick blanket of smog after all night bursting of crackers by the people, who defied Supreme Court ban, which also lead to a political tussle between AAP and BJP.
The average Air Quality Index (AQI) on Monday was recorded at 358 (very poor).
Interestingly, the national capital had recorded its best air quality on Diwali day in eight years on Sunday, with its 24-hour average AQI clocking at 218 at 4pm.
According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, the average AQI in Delhi's RK Puram was recorded at 422 (severe) at 5am on Tuesday. Lung-damaging particulate matter PM2.5 remained the prominent pollutant.
Dwarka's air quality also turned severe on Tuesday morning with an AQI of 406, the CPCB data showed.
Similarly, ITO saw an AQI of 432 (severe) at 5am, and it is likely to hover around the same levels throughout the day.
The AQI reading in Delhi's neighbouring city of Noida was similar. At 5am, the CPCB data showed, air quality index was 406 (severe) in Noida Sector-125.
In Noida Sector-62, the AQI clocked at 377 (very poor) and is likely to turn 'severe' later in the day.
Residents of Haryana's Gurugram also woke up a toxic air as the AQI logged at 430 in Sector-51 on Tuesday morning.
Classes from nursery to five, which were suspended due to high air pollution levels in the district, are set to resume, authorities said on Monday. The Gurugram administration had on November 6 ordered the closure of primary schools till further orders to protect schoolchildren from rising pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR).
In order to avoid disruption, orders were given to school managements to continue studies in online mode only, but now the orders have been withdrawn with immediate effect, the latest order read. The AQI of the city was recorded at 349 on Monday, which was up to seven times higher than normal.
Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai alleged that people associated with the BJP instigated residents to burn firecrackers on Diwali, leading to an overnight increase of more than 100 points in the national capital's air quality index.
During a presser, Rai said the firecrackers burnt in Delhi were sourced from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and that some individuals, including police personnel from these states, permitted the transportation of those firecrackers to the city.
Delhi BJP vice president Kapil Mishra called Rai's statement on air pollution “shameful”. "It's foolish to hold crackers responsible for air pollution. A week ago,
Delhi's air quality index was around 400-500. Post Diwali, it's 296. If crackers caused pollution, then Gaza would have the highest level of pollution. There should be a fight against pollution," he said. On Sunday, Mishra hailed people for defying the cracker ban.
BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla in a post on X accused the AAP and the opposition alliance INDIA of targeting Hindus and Diwali. "AAP & I.N.D.I alliance now targets Hindus & Diwali," he said. "Are we surprised?" He said that there were 900 cases of stubble burning on Diwali in Punjab despite Supreme Court warnings. “Over all there have been above 23,000 incidents of parali burning in Punjab.”