The air quality in Delhi reached the severe category this morning, following a brief improvement the previous day.
Similarly, the situation in Mumbai has deteriorated since it was recognised as one of the world's most polluted cities last weekend.
Delhi and surrounding cities are currently engulfed in a hazardous smog, leading to the closure of schools and the reintroduction of the stricter odd-even rule after a four-year hiatus.
This morning, the air quality index (AQI) in Delhi reached 418, with some of the worst-affected areas being Punjabi Bagh (460), Narela (448), Bawana (462), Anand Vihar (452), and Rohini (451). The situation is equally concerning in neighboring cities such as Noida, Gurugram, Faridabad, and Ghaziabad, with their respective average AQI being 409, 370, 396, and 382, NDTV reported.
This morning, Mumbai's air quality index (AQI) reached 165. In response to concerns about the potential health issues caused by pollution, a hospital in the city has established a specialized Intensive Respiratory Care Unit to treat patients with respiratory problems.
Some places in the city have been grappling with poor air quality with AQI above 200.
Despite the city's advantageous coastal location and the presence of water on three sides, which typically helps to disperse pollutants through strong winds, the hospital's proactive approach acknowledges the need for additional care and attention.
The air pollution in Delhi is being attributed to a combination of factors, including vehicle emissions and stubble burning, and the authorities have raised the pollution alert to its highest level.
The national capital has implemented Stage-4 of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), a set of guidelines aimed at reducing pollution. As part of this stage, diesel trucks and construction activities have been prohibited.
The odd-even rule, which restricts vehicular traffic based on registration numbers, will be enforced for one week starting the day after Diwali.
The Supreme Court, however, remains unconvinced by the odd-even rule and dismisses it as a "mere optics". Instead, it has instructed state governments in the National Capital Region to address the issue of stubble burning, emphasizing that the hazardous air quality is responsible for the "murder of people's health".
The Supreme Court has made it clear that its 2021 order permitting the use of only green firecrackers will be applicable nationwide, not just in Delhi-NCR. In Mumbai, the Bombay High Court has specified a time frame of 7-10 pm for fireworks during Diwali.
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