NEW DELHI, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Two Indian cities joined New Delhi in being among the world’s 10 worst for pollution on Monday morning, with smoke heavy in the air a day after revelers let loose with fireworks for Diwali – the annual Hindu festival of lights.
The capital, New Delhi, took the top spot, as it often does. It had an air quality index (AQI) figure of 420, putting it in the “dangerous” category, according to Swiss group IQAir.
But it was also joined in the top 10 by Kolkata in India’s east, which came fourth with an AQI of 196, while the financial capital of Mumbai was eighth with an AQI of 163.
An AQI level of 400-500 affects healthy people and is dangerous for those with existing illnesses, while a level of 150-200 causes discomfort for people with asthma, lung and heart problems. Levels of 0-50 are considered good.
A thick layer of smog had started circulating in New Delhi from Sunday night, sending its AQI to an alarming 680 a little after midnight.
Every year the authorities introduce bans on fireworks in the capital, but only rarely do these bans seem to be enforced.
Air quality in India deteriorates every year ahead of winter, when cold air traps pollutants from vehicles, industry, construction dust and burning agricultural waste.
New Delhi authorities postponed an earlier decision to restrict the use of vehicles after a brief spell of rain on Friday brought a respite from a week-long exposure to toxic air.
The local government plans to review the decision after Diwali.
Reporting by Tanvi Mehta; Editing by Edwina Gibbs
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