The flouting of a ban on crackers in India's National Capital Territory (NCT) saw the Air Quality Index (AQI) rise into the "severe" category (the highest on a six-tier scale) on Sunday, November 15. The city saw an average AQI score of 414 out of 500, indicating that conditions are hazardous, and the ITO and Anand Vihar areas recorded highs of 461 and 478 respectively. The score of 414 is the highest for the city on Diwali since 2016. The situation is expected to ameliorate over the course of Sunday, with light rain and a change in wind direction forecast.
The NCT has seen a spike in air pollution in recent weeks with poor air quality reported due to stubble fires and vehicle emissions in and around the city.
Air pollution in the NCT typically worsens in October and November as farmers in the surrounding countryside burn stubble that remains following the harvest. Stubble burning was responsible for 42 percent of air pollution on Thursday, November 5 this year, and the resulting smoke is compounded by existing pollution caused by coal-fired plants and vehicle emissions. Pollution is further increased during Diwali, which is typically celebrated with the use of fireworks. Authorities have restricted the use of fireworks in the capital since 2017 over concerns over air pollution, with residents permitted to use "green" fireworks in specific areas of the city at set times.
Individuals in the NCT are advised to monitor local media outlets for further information and follow any instructions issued by the local government. Children and those with respiratory illnesses should exercise additional precautions. Those travelling in the affected area are advised to reduce outdoor activities and consider the use of face masks. Carry a bottle of water and consume light, easily digestible food.
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