The quality of air in India's national capital New Delhi and its extended neighbourhood worsened on Thursday, reaching "severe levels" again after remaining at the "very poor" level for the past week.
The overall air quality index (AQI) in Delhi was recorded at 410 PPM (Parts per Million in terms of chemical or contaminate per unit volume of water) on Thursday before noon. Other places such as the Delhi University area recorded 481 PPM. Suburban areas located on the outskirts of Delhi like NOIDA in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh registered a PPM of 461, while the AQI in Gurgaon in the state of Haryana had readings at 423 PPM. Ghaziabad city in Uttar Pradesh state was the worst hit with a recorded PPM of 495.
The central government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting (SAFAR) provided this alarming data. According to SAFAR, AQI from 0-50 is considered 'safe'; 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'.
SAFAR advised the general public to avoid outdoor physical activity, including morning walks or strolls. The agency also warned that windows be kept closed, and suggested citizens avoid vacuuming and wet mopping floors. It was also recommended that people suffering coughing fits, chest discomfort, wheezing, breathing difficulties, or fatigue consult doctors.
Thursday's "severe" categorization of pollution levels comes just two days after the country's Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) had recommended that a bench of the Supreme Court of India, consider partial relaxation of the ban on construction activity in the national capital and its adjoining suburbs, based on somewhat improved air quality.
In early November, the top court had banned all construction-related activities in the wake of worsening air quality.