Two more Indian cities joined the ranks of the most polluted cities this weekend as families across the country burst firecrackers. India celebrated Diwali, a joyous Hindu festival of lights. Instead of the festival, heavy smoke covered several cities across the country.
New Delhi was at the top of the most polluted city list. The AQI, as per the Swiss group IQair, ranked 407. This number labels the air quality in New Delhi at a hazardous level.
Mumbai, the financial capital of India, came in at number six with an AQI of 157. Kolkata ranked number seven with an AQI of 154. An AQI of 400–500 affects healthy people and worsens pre-existing conditions in others. The AQI range of 150–200 brings discomfort to those diagnosed with asthma, heart disease, and lung disease. 0–50 is the ideal AQI.
The Diwali celebrations on Sunday night sent the AQI soaring to a worrying 680 points as a thick layer of hazardous smoke covered the city.
The city posts annual bans regarding firecrackers and actions against the perpetrators. However, enforcing these bans is difficult. Saket Gokhale, a city lawmaker, posted on X, asking New Delhi officials about the number of illegal firecracker cases and actions against such perpetrators. However, some citizens feel that banning firecrackers impedes their joy and way of celebrating Diwali.
When Reuters, an online news media agency, contacted a New Delhi spokesperson, they did not comment on the rising smoke levels.
Worsening Air Quality in New Delhi
Over the past few years, the air quality in New Delhi has deteriorated considerably. The cold air of North India traps pollutants released by motor vehicles, ongoing construction, several industries, and lastly, agricultural waste burning.
A brief spell of rain brought respite to the toxic city as air quality improved overall. Thus, the government postponed a ban on motor vehicles to a later date.
The state government has decided to keep schools shut to protect people from the effects of harmful pollutants.
Official Warning From Health Professionals
Doctors practising in New Delhi have repeatedly stated the ill effects of rising air pollution. If the AQI continues to plummet, the public will experience an itch and irritation in the eyes and throat.
Dr. Desh Deepak from Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital in New Delhi states, "My patients are taking a turn for the worst. We, as a society, do not value clean air."
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