It was a foggy morning in the national capital on Thursday with the minimum temperature recorded at 10.5 degrees Celsius and air quality deteriorating to "severe" level a day after Diwali.
#Delhi's Anand Vihar at 999, area around US Embassy, Chanakyapuri at 459 & area around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium at 999, all under 'Hazardous' category in Air Quality Index (AQI) pic.twitter.com/QX7z5UYOl9— ANI (@ANI) November 8, 2018
The air-quality across the National Capital Region has worsened, according to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) and the minimum temperature dipping three notches below normal.
"The sky will be clear with fog or mist in the early morning," an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official said.
The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 28 degrees Celsius. The humidity at 8.30 a.m. was 86 per cent.
On Wednesday, the city witnessed an improvement in the air quality as it reached "poor" level after reaching "emergency" levels on Tuesday early morning before coming down to "very poor" and "poor" levels.
The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed manufacture and sale of only "green crackers", which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.
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 the court.
But despite the apex court order, there were reports of its violation from many areas long after 10 pm.
Several areas showed a spike in the air pollution. Areas like Anand Vihar, ITO and Jahangirpuri recorded very high pollution levels.
Violations of the Supreme Court order were reported from Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka, Noida Sector 78 among other places.
The police admitted that there were violations, adding that they would take serious legal action against those violating the apex court order.
The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city indicated "poor" and "very poor" air quality as the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 8 pm.
According to the CPCB data, the 24-hour rolling average of PM2.5 and PM10 were 164 and 294 micrograms per cubic metre respectively.
The SAFAR forecast "bad" air quality Thursday even though partially toxic crackers were burst as compared to 2017. It also said the pollution levels would peak between 11 am and 3 am Wednesday and Thursday.
The situation was similar, if not worse, in the neighbouring areas of Delhi such as Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad, where crackers were burst as usual, raising question marks on the efficacy of the administration in enforcing the apex court's ban.
A "very poor" AQI essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air. If the air quality dips further, the AQI will turn "severe", which may trouble even those with sound health conditions and seriously affect those with ailments.
As many as 209 calls were received by the Delhi Fire Services on Diwali, including one related to a huge fire in a factory at Bawana, officials said.
Of these, 89 calls were related to fire incidents at garbage and dumpyards, while the rest were related to fire incidents involving electric wires, at factories and residential areas, a senior Delhi Fire Services officer said.
The officials said the number of calls related to firecrackers was comparatively low, but there was no decline in the number of calls related to fire incidents.
The Centre, in collaboration with the Delhi government, has launched a 10-day "Clean Air Campaign" from November 1 to 10 to monitor and report polluting activities as well as to ensure quick action.
About 52 teams deployed under the campaign are visiting different parts of Delhi and the adjacent towns of Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Noida.
The teams are being led by the sub-divisional magistrates of the respective areas and comprise senior officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), representatives of the CPCB, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).
Nearly 15,000 people died prematurely in Delhi due to pollution by fine particulate matter in 2016, according to a new study which ranked the national capital third in a list of cities reporting most deaths due to air pollution.
Shanghai was ranked first in most premature deaths at 17,600 and Beijing second with 18,200 deaths due to PM2.5 pollutant.
(With inputs from IANS and PTI)