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Air pollution: Delhi AQI turns ‘severe’ again; Gurugram schools to reopen. Latest updates

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The air quality in several places in Delhi once again turned ‘severe’ on Tuesday morning amid a political blame game between the ruling Aam Aadmi Party and the Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party over the late-night bursting of crackers during Diwali celebrations on Sunday.

A train moving in a dense smog amid rising air pollution levels in Ghaziabad on November 13. (Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)
A train moving in a dense smog amid rising air pollution levels in Ghaziabad on November 13. (Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)

Squandering the relief due to rain, Delhi recorded a spike in pollution levels and a smoky haze returned on Monday morning after residents flouted the ban on firecrackers on Diwali night.

The average Air Quality Index (AQI) on Monday was recorded at 358 (very poor). Interestingly, the national capital had recorded its best air quality on Diwali day in eight years on Sunday, with its 24-hour average AQI clocking at 218 at 4pm.

Follow Live Updates on Delhi air pollution

Latest updates on Delhi, NCR air pollution:

  • According to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data, the average AQI in Delhi’s RK Puram was recorded at 422 (severe) at 5am on Tuesday. Lung-damaging particulate matter PM2.5 remained the prominent pollutant.
  • Dwarka’s air quality also turned severe on Tuesday morning with an AQI of 406, the CPCB data showed.
  • Similarly, ITO saw an AQI of 432 (severe) at 5am, and it is likely to hover around the same levels throughout the day.
  • A combination of relentless bursting of firecrackers in the vicinity, coupled with police inaction in enforcing a ban on the sale and use of fireworks, pushed the hourly PM 2.5 concentration at Anand Vihar to 1,985 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) at Sunday midnight – a whopping 33 times the national safe standard of 60 µg/m3, and 132 times the safe-limit of 15 µg/m3 given by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
  • The AQI reading in Delhi’s neighbouring city of Noida was similar. At 5am, the CPCB data showed, air quality index was 406 (severe) in Noida Sector-125.
  • In Noida Sector-62, the AQI clocked at 377 (very poor) and is likely to turn ‘severe’ later in the day.
  • Residents of Haryana’s Gurugram also woke up a toxic air as the AQI logged at 430 in Sector-51 on Tuesday morning.
  • Classes from nursery to five, which were suspended due to high air pollution levels in the district, are set to resume, authorities said on Monday. The Gurugram administration had on November 6 ordered the closure of primary schools till further orders to protect schoolchildren from rising pollution in the National Capital Region (NCR).
  • In order to avoid disruption, orders were given to school managements to continue studies in online mode only, but now the orders have been withdrawn with immediate effect, the latest order read. The AQI of the city was recorded at 349 on Monday, which was up to seven times higher than normal.
  • An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, 401 and 450 ‘severe’ and above 450 ‘severe plus’.
  • Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai alleged that people associated with the BJP instigated residents to burn firecrackers on Diwali, leading to an overnight increase of more than 100 points in the national capital’s air quality index. At a press conference, Rai said the firecrackers burnt in Delhi were sourced from Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, and that some individuals, including police personnel from these states, permitted the transportation of those firecrackers to the city.
  • Delhi BJP vice president Kapil Mishra called Rai’s statement on air pollution “shameful”. “It’s foolish to hold crackers responsible for air pollution. A week ago, Delhi’s air quality index was around 400-500. Post Diwali, it’s 296. If crackers caused pollution, then Gaza would have the highest level of pollution. There should be a fight against pollution,” he said. On Sunday, Mishra hailed people for defying the cracker ban.
  • BJP spokesperson Shehzad Poonawalla in a post on X accused the AAP and the opposition alliance INDIA of targeting Hindus and Diwali. “AAP & I.N.D.I alliance now targets Hindus & Diwali,” he said. “Are we surprised?” He said that there were 900 cases of stubble burning on Diwali in Punjab despite Supreme Court warnings. “Over all there have been above 23,000 incidents of parali burning in Punjab.”
  • According to IQAir, a Swiss company which specialises in air quality monitoring, Delhi was the most polluted city in the world on Monday, followed by Lahore and Karachi in Pakistan. Mumbai and Kolkata ranked fifth and sixth among the most polluted cities in the world.

(With inputs from agencies)

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