Every year, the residents of India's capital region and surrounding areas experience hazardous levels of air pollution at the beginning of winter.
The national capital's air quality remained "severe" for the fifth consecutive day on Monday, with calm wind speed exacerbating the effect of stubble burning. While his comments received a lot of backlash, experts warn that Delhi's air quality is bound to get worse as the festival season arrives in India.
Ahead of this year's Diwali, which starts this weekend, the National Green Tribunal, India's main environment court, imposed a ban of the sale and use of firecrackers.
The Central Pollution Control Board's air quality index recorded severe levels of pollution between 450 and 499 at monitoring centers in the city, with 500 the highest pollution level on the scale.
Accordingly, the AQI level of the National Capital Region is likely to fall from the "severe" category to the highest level of the "very poor" category in the event of a change in wind direction and an increase in its speed.
The data showed the deadly particulate matter PM2.5, which can cause cardiovascular and respiratory diseases such as lung cancer, also reached its highest levels since November 2019 and stood at more than 30 the World Health Organization's safe limit.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 is satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 is marked as severe/hazardous. Health experts say air pollution would make people more vulnerable to the novel coronavirus. It reduced visibility to 600 meters at the Safdarjung Observatory, Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the IMD's regional forecasting centre, said.
According to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), the PM10 concentration soared to 1,482 g/m3 at Bawana, 1,800 g/m3 at Jahangirpuri, 1,291 g/m3 at Wazirpur and 1,471 at Punjabi Bagh.
"A marginal improvement is likely on Thursday and Friday due to change in the wind direction, but it will not be substantial", he said.
"Encourage work from home" is one of the 10 "major immediate measures" suggested by the newly set up Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) in NCR and Adjoining areas.