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A thick haze engulfed the national capital Wednesday night with the air quality deteriorating to the "hazardous" category as Delhiites continued burst firecrackers on Diwali long after the deadline set by the Supreme Court.
A thick haze engulfed the national capital Wednesday night with the air quality deteriorating to the "hazardous" category as Delhiites continued burst firecrackers on Diwali long after the deadline set by the Supreme Court.
The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 302 at 11 pm, which further deterotiated overnight and reached 'hazardous' category in the morning on Thursday, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
 
The air quality started deteriorating rapidly from 7 pm. The AQI was 281 at 7 pm. It rose to 291 at 8 pm and further deteriorated to 294 at 9 pm and 296 at 10 pm, according to the CPCB.
 
At some places the AQI touched 999, highest possible on the three-digit scale. At 7 am on Thursday morning, most of the monitoring stattions reported an AQI of 999 while as the online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city indicated "hazardous" air quality.
 
The volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 8 pm and were at the level of 999 on Thursday morning. 
 
The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed manufacture and sale of only "green crackers", which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.
 
The court had asked the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and said in case of any violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of the court.
 
But despite the apex court order, there were reports of its violation from many areas long after 10 pm.
 
Several areas showed a spike in the air pollution. Areas like Anand Vihar, ITO and Jahangirpuri recorded very high pollution levels.
 
Violations of the Supreme Court order were reported from Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka, Noida Sector 78 among other places.
 
The police admitted that there were violations, adding that they would take serious legal action against those violating the apex court order.
 
A "hazardous" AQI essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air and may also trouble even those with sound health conditions and seriously affect those with ailments.
 
As many as 209 calls were received by the Delhi Fire Services on Diwali, including one related to a huge fire in a factory at Bawana, officials said.
 
Of these, 89 calls were related to fire incidents at garbage and dumpyards, while the rest were related to fire incidents involving electric wires, at factories and residential areas, a senior Delhi Fire Services officer said.
 
The officials said the number of calls related to firecrackers was comparatively low, but there was no decline in the number of calls related to fire incidents.
 
The Centre, in collaboration with the Delhi government, has launched a 10-day "Clean Air Campaign" from November 1 to 10 to monitor and report polluting activities as well as to ensure quick action.
 
About 52 teams deployed under the campaign are visiting different parts of Delhi and the adjacent towns of Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Noida.
 
The teams are being led by the sub-divisional magistrates of the respective areas and comprise senior officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), representatives of the CPCB, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).