A thick blanket of haze continued to engulf the national capital on Friday, experts warned that the air quality is likely to worsen further as the pollution level entered the "severe-plus emergency" category, or 11 times the permissible limit, due to rampant bursting of toxic firecrackers on Diwali, in violation of a Supreme Court order.
The Supreme Court's firecracker ban on Diwali was violated with impunity across Delhi and NCR on Diwali with people bursting crackers till late into the night leading to a thick haze on Thursday morning and air quality dipping six times from the normal.
As a result of smoke from the firecrackers, the overall AQI in Delhi jumped to 422 which falls in the severe category, according to the data by SAFAR.
The PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) and PM10 concentrations touched 492 and 618 respectively, both in the severe category, according to SAFAR data.
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".
A report by research group Urban Emissions said close to 5 million kilogrammes of firecrackers were burnt in Delhi this year.
Delhi: North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) sprinkles water on trees in the area around Delhi University's North Campus to settle the dust, as a pollution control measure. PM 10 and PM 2.5 in the area in 'Severe' category. pic.twitter.com/SalMfLGYpA— ANI (@ANI) November 9, 2018
Delhi: Latest visuals from Lodhi Garden. pic.twitter.com/YDbEB7726r— ANI (@ANI) November 9, 2018
The government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) warned that Delhi's air quality is likely to remain "severe" over the next two days as smoke from firecrackers has slowed down the process of pollutant dispersion.
According to the autonomous meteorological body set up under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, SAFAR, the overall Air Quality Index of Delhi at 8:15 am was recorded at 428, which falls under the 'hazardous' category— ANI Digital (@ani_digital) November 9, 2018
Read @ANI Story | https://t.co/VXWYiqMi0f pic.twitter.com/4J8681D0ti
The NCR too grappled with the same situation as Faridabad, Ghaziabad, Noida and Gurgaon recorded "poor" pollution levels, according to Central Pollution Control Board data.
The Delhi police said it has registered over 550 cases and arrested more than 300 people for violating the court's order. It said it has seized over 7,900 kg of illegal firecrackers, including 2,500 kgs on the day of Diwali, since the Supreme Court ordered a ban on the sale of old crackers on October 23.
The Delhi Police has seized over 3,500 kg of firecrackers from various parts of the city since October 23 and arrested 26 persons for storing them without the license. The police have also registered 29 cases following the Supreme Court order on the sale of old firecrackers.