Tourists, including foreigners, visiting Delhi ahead of Diwali on Monday complained of having a tough time due to increasing air pollution as a thick haze engulfed the city, with some even cutting short their trips citing health concerns.
Some of them said pollution masks were proving ineffective as the air quality has turned "severe", forcing them to visit hospitals to seek treatment for breathlessness, allergy and irritation.
Emily, from Amsterdam, said she was cutting short her visit to Delhi due to the deteriorating air quality.
"I wanted to spend the Christmas with my friends but then the air quality is so bad that I have decided not to stay here anymore. I will rather go to Kerala and spend the rest of my holidays there," she said.
Sonia Aggarwal, who is in Delhi with her family to celebrate Diwali, said she had to take her daughter to hospital after she complained of breathlessness.
"Doctors have advised my daughter to use inhalers for the time being. She took ill because of the bad weather conditions. We are concerned about her well-being," Aggarwal, a mother of two, said.
Hoteliers too complained that they were suffering losses as tourists were leaving the city.
"The business has started falling like every year at this time as several tourists are cancelling their stay due to the air quality deteriorating to hazardous levels. Those who were scheduled to visit Delhi have postponed their trip after reading reports of pollution; they are preferring other destinations," said Harish Sharma, manager of a hotel in Old Delhi.
Delhi's air quality continued to worsen through the day, inching towards 'severe plus emergency' category as a change in wind direction and rampant stubble burning in neighbouring states brought a sudden spike in the pollution level.
Also, the PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) and PM10 concentrations spiked to 'severe-plus emergency' category at 365 and 503 respectively, according to CPCB data.
The PM10 concentration in several parts of Delhi recorded 'severe plus emergency' levels, around 10 times the permissable limit.
The overall air quality index on Monday was registered in the severe category at 434, a drastic decline from a day before when the AQI was moderate at 171.
A thick haze has engulfed the national capital two days ahead of Diwali, following which, experts have warned, the air quality is likely to worsen further due to local factors.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)