New Delhi: Delhi’s air quality continued to remain in ‘hazardous’ category on Friday, a day after the pollution level entered the ‘severe-plus emergency’ category. The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) in the national capital was recorded at 426 at 8 AM on November 9 as Anand Vihar’s air quality was at 585, while it was 476 in area around US Embassy and 343 in RK Puram.

On Thursday, a day after Diwali, Delhi recorded its worst air quality of the year due to rampant bursting of toxic firecrackers in violation of a Supreme Court order. A report by research group Urban Emissions said close to 50 lakh kilograms of firecrackers were burnt in the national capital this year.

To combat pollution, Delhi’s government’s transport department banned the entry of heavy vehicles in the city from 11 pm on Thursday to 11 pm on November 11. On the other hand, the Supreme Court-appointed environment pollution control authority said it was monitoring the situation and will take emergency measures if the pollution level increases.

The government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) warned that Delhi’s air quality is likely to remain “severe” over the next two days as smoke from firecrackers has slowed down the process of pollutant dispersion.

The concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 had increased from 50 per cent to 70 per cent on Wednesday night, indicating an increased share of locally-generated firecracker emissions, SAFAR said. On Thursday, the PM2.5 level was recorded at 492 gm-3, more than eight times the permissable limit. The PM10 level was six times the permissable limit at 618 gm-3, according to SAFAR.

On Thursday, twenty three areas in Delhi recorded ‘severe’ air quality while eight recorded ‘very poor’ quality air, according to Central Pollution Control Board. A ‘severe plus emergency’ level AQI essentially means that even healthy people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on prolonged exposure.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 PM to 10 PM on Diwali and allowed sale of only ‘green crackers’ which have low emission of light, sound and harmful chemicals. Despite the order, certain places reported violation of the specified time period. These included Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens’ Delhi, IP Extension, Dwarka and Noida Sector-78.