00:26 GMT27 February 2021
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    The morning after Diwali, the festival of lights, India’s national capital Delhi and adjoining areas registered an overall air quality index (AQI) of above 500, which was ten times the safe limit. In some areas, the AQI was as high as 999- bracketed as ‘hazardous’ category by the pollution watchdog.

    Defying court directives, people in India's capital Delhi and adjoining areas burst firecrackers till dawn on the occasion of Diwali as a result of which the air quality index or AQI on Thursday morning crossed the "severe-plus emergency" Thursday morning.

    The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said that the air quality started deteriorating at the onset of the bursting of firecrackers at around 7 pm on Wednesday and continued to rise as the celebrations heightened. The overall AQI that was 281 at 7 pm rose to 291 at 8 pm and measured 294 at 9 pm and 296 at 10 pm. Thereafter, it continued to rise, reaching 574 Thursday morning.

    ​AQI above 500 falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category, which means it is ten times the safe limit of air pollution, according to the government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research.

    ​The Delhi firefighting services confirmed that incidences of fire due to crackers were reporting till the wee hours on Thursday morning which meant that people disregarded the 8-10 pm limit on the bursting of crackers.

    "Between 8 to 12 pm we received 125 calls. Between 6 pm to 6 am we received 226 calls. It means the two hours allotted by Supreme Court was not very effective, crackers were burst till morning. Number of call this Diwali was more than last year," Director of Delhi Fire Services told the media.  

    ​Delhi's worsening air quality had forced India's apex court to limit the timing of lighting firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm and only at major festivals. The Supreme Court has also allowed manufacture and sale of only "green crackers" containing less harmful chemicals with low volume and light emission.


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