Delhi bans trucks as mega-city chokes

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Mustafa Mohammed, a student and cycling enthusiast, said he could feel the air quality dip drastically as he set out on Thursday to the India Gate in the heart of the city.

Partly as a result of smoke from the firecrackers, the overall AQI in Delhi jumped to 642 which falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category, according to the data by SAFAR.

"The Delhi Air Quality Index is 500+ at present".

In 2016, Diwali festivities raised pollution levels to their highest in almost two decades - forcing the closure of schools and other emergency measures.

Diwali is always one of the worst times of year for air quality, as firework smoke mixes with vehicle exhaust fumes, factory emissions and construction dust.

In 2017, the AQI was recorded at 367, a day after Diwali, while in 2016 it was 425.

The air quality in Delhi has reached "severe plus emergency" category following Diwali celebrations.

The indices mostly measure the concentration of tiny poisonous particulate matter, or PM 2.5, particles that are less than 2.5 microns in diameter, which can be carried deep into the lungs.

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While many residents and green activists voiced their helplessness at the violation of the Supreme Court's 8-10pm time limit of bursting firecrackers and expressed anguish, doctors advised people to stay indoors, use N-99 masks and not venture out.

Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data said particulate concentrations were slightly higher this Diwali as compared to previous year.

The overall AQI of the city was 11 times the permissable limit.

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

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of crackers from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali.

Several areas in Delhi including Anand Vihar, ITO and Jahangirpuri have recorded the highest level of pollutants in the air and the Delhi government is planning to mull the odd-even rule back in the national capital.

The court had said police should ensure that there was no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the Station House Officer of the area police station would be held liable and this would amount to committing contempt of the court.

Last Diwali Ludhiana topped the chart of most polluted cities of the state.

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