New Delhi was shrouded in a thick blanket of toxic smog Monday after millions of Indians lit firecrackers to mark the Diwali festival, with authorities reporting record levels of pollution in parts of the capital.
The reading for the number of pollutants in the atmosphere breached the 1,000 microgram mark for the first time in one neighbourhood in south Delhi — 10 times the World Health Organisation’s recommended level.
Gufran Beig, chief scientist at India’s state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), said needles on monitors in the RK Puram neighbourhood had flickered briefly past the 1,000 level late on Sunday night at the finale of a frenzy of fireworks.
The levels had subsided through the night but were still running at more than 700 in several districts across the capital by mid-morning.
“Almost 60-70 percent of the smoke came from the firecrackers,” said Beig, who said the situation had been widely expected given that Diwali is always one of the worst periods for pollution.