Two Indian cities, in addition to New Delhi, secured positions among the world’s top 10 most polluted cities on Monday. Post-Diwali celebrations, marked by firecrackers, contributed to a heavy presence of smoke in the air.
New Delhi, the capital, claimed the top spot with an air quality index (AQI) of 407, categorizing it as “hazardous,” according to Swiss group IQAir. Mumbai, the financial capital, secured the sixth position with an AQI of 157, while Kolkata in the east stood at seventh with an AQI of 154.
An AQI level of 400-500 is hazardous to healthy individuals and dangerous for those with existing diseases, while a range of 150-200 brings discomfort to people with asthma, lung, and heart problems. Levels of 0-50 are considered good.
New Delhi experienced a surge in smog from Sunday night, elevating its AQI to an alarming 680 shortly after midnight. Despite annual bans on firecrackers, enforcement remains lax.
Northern India witnesses a decline in air quality each year before winter, as cold air traps pollutants from vehicles, industry, construction dust, and agricultural burning. Despite a temporary improvement after rain on Friday, New Delhi’s authorities postponed vehicle restrictions and maintained bans on construction and school activities to combat pollution.