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Day after Diwali, Delhi gasps for air

Day after Diwali, Delhi gasps for air
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New Delhi: Delhi recorded its worst air quality of the year the morning after Diwali as the pollution level entered "severe-plus emergency" category due to the rampant bursting of toxic firecrackers, authorities said on Thursday.

In a gross violation of a Supreme Court order, people in several cities burst firecrackers until at least midnight, two hours after the 10 PM deadline. Loud bangs rent the air in New Delhi.

Partly as a result of smoke from the firecrackers, the overall air quality index in Delhi jumped to 574 which falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category, according to data by the Centre-run SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research).

The sharp spike in pollution is caused by the uncontrolled burning of firecrackers that has led to the formation of a smoky layer across the national capital and drastically reduced visibility, the authorities said.

A 'severe plus emergency' air quality index (AQI) means that even healthy people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on prolonged exposure to such air. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to the advisory issued by SAFAR.

The Supreme Court had allowed people to burst firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. The Supreme Court also permitted the manufacture and sale of just "green crackers" which have a low emission of light, sound and harmful chemicals.

Over 550 cases were registered and more than 300 people arrested on Diwali night for violating the Supreme Court's order, officials said on Thursday.

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