Delhi Environment Min. reviews air quality

Air pollution levels have spiked in Delhi following bursting of firecrackers on Diwali

A day after India celebrated Diwali, citizens across the country, particularly in the national capital, struggled to breathe clean air with pollution levels soaring to alarming levels.

By Friday around 1 p.m., the US embassy showed New Delhi's pollution had almost halved with AQI at 548, which still appeared to be the worst of any major city in the world.

The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA), which is empowered to enforce the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to combat air pollution in Delhi-NCR, kicked off a series of preventive measures on October 17. The "Severe" category was said to denote that the air "affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases" and the "Very Poor" quality denotes that the air could cause "respiratory illness on prolonged exposure". Kolkata recorded the air pollution level at 358 micrograms per cubic metre while Agra recorded 332 micrograms per cubic metre. Some people claimed to have travelled out of the city or shopped online to buy firecrackers, while many claimed they used last year's leftover stock to celebrate Diwali. This is evident from the fact that concentration of PM 2.5 (particulate matters that are 2.5 or less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter) was the biggest contributor to the pollution. Air quality generally deteriorates as winter sets in because of a combination of agricultural crop burning in the nearby states of Punjab and Haryana, dust from roads and construction sites, industry, coal power plants and vehicular emissions. Delhi's most polluted station on Monday remained Anand Vihar, which was the only station in the "severe" category, according to CPCB's central control room.

However, he pointed out that an increase in number of monitoring stations over the last one year might also have contributed to recording higher level of pollution.

This Diwali has been quieter compared to the earlier years but the quality of air doesn't seem to have improved.

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