Uncertainty over air pollution in Delhi over the weekend


City records worst air quality of year, 10 times permissible limit. The Meteorological Department said there was low surface wind speed, between 3-6 kmph on Friday and therefore, the AQI remained in the "severe" zone as the pollutants were not blown away. Delhi needs an "air quality manager" who has a clearly defined power.

Traders in Sadar Bazar here on Wednesday stuffed old firecrackers inside vegetables to protest the Supreme Court's order on use of green crackers this Diwali.

The transport ministry said that vehicles carrying food and other essentials were exempted, while appealing to private owners of diesel sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to leave their cars at home.

The Supreme Court had earlier allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8pm to 10pm only on Diwali in the Delhi-NCR and the sale of "green crackers" by the licensed vendors but the ruling was smoked up in the air by the Delhiites.

In the wake of deteriorating air quality in Delhi, the entry of heavy vehicles into the national capital have been stopped after 11 pm. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to a SAFAR advisory.

India's Supreme Court ruled last month that only environmentally friendly fireworks - that emit less smoke and soot - can be sold in Delhi, in a bid to cut the smog that has scarred the city's global reputation.

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The concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 had increased from 50 per cent to 70 per cent last night, indicating an increased share of locally-generated firecracker emissions, SAFAR said.

The capital city was followed by Kolkata with recording the same AQI.

Mustafa Mohammed, a student and cycling enthusiast, said he could feel the air quality dip drastically as he set out on Thursday to the India Gate in the heart of the city.

"The fire counts are seen to be very high but it is a combination of stubble burning and widespread firecrackers in that region and need not be confused with stubble only fire", it said in a report. On Friday, the AQI was recorded at 421, which falls in the "severe" category, according to the the Central Pollution Control Board.

Violations of the Supreme Court order were reported from Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka, Noida Sector 78 among other places.