New Delhi: Delhiites woke up to a thick haze on Thursday, a day after Diwali, as the national capital recorded its worst air quality of the year as the pollution level nosedived to ‘hazardous’ category. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) at 11 AM on November 8 was recorded at 356, according to data by Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). However, the AQI at Anand Vihar and the area around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium was recorded at 999.

The major pollutant PM 2.5 and PM 10 are at 500 (severe) in Lodhi Road and at 459 in Chanakyapuri, the Air Quality Index data showed, as areas like ITO and Jahangirpuri recorded very high pollution levels.

Meanwhile, the Centre-run SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) stated that the overall AQI jumped to 574, which falls in the ‘severe-plus emergency’ category, on Thursday. The sharp spike in pollution is caused by rampant 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 major reason behind the deterioration of the AQI can be regarded as the violation of a Supreme Court order that restricted bursting of firecrackers before and after the 8 PM to 10 PM timeframe. Violations of the apex court’s order were reported from Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka, Noida Sector 78 among other places. Admitting that there were violations, the police said that serious legal action will be taken against those violating the top court order.

Earlier on Wednesday, Delhi’s air quality remained in ‘poor’ category even as rampant stubble burning was reported from Punjab and Haryana. The overall AQI was recorded at 296 at 10 PM. However on Tuesday, twenty-five areas in the national capital recorded ‘very poor’ quality air as the city’s overall AQI was 320, according to data by the CPCB.

The national capital recorded its worst air quality of the season on Monday as the pollution levels reached eight times the permissable limit. The overall AQI was recorded at 434 that falls in the ‘severe’ category.

Delhi’s air quality is expected to deteriorate to ‘severe plus emergency’ category after Diwali, the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) had earlier said. Doctors claim that the impact of air pollution on public health can be compared to smoking 15-20 cigarettes a day.

To address the air pollution situation, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said it was mulling inducing artificial rain over the city after Diwali to wash away hazardous pollutants plaguing the national capital. In connection with the matter, the pollution monitoring body is in talks with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’ and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.