Three Indian cities among world’s 10 most polluted after Diwali festival

New Delhi, as usual, takes the top spot while Mumbai comes sixth with an AQI of 157, followed by Kolkata with an AQI of 154.

India Diwali pollution
A girl lights fireworks to celebrate Diwali in New Delhi [Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

Two Indian cities have joined the national capital, New Delhi, on the list of the world’s top 10 most polluted cities, with smoke heavy in the air a day after revellers let loose with firecrackers for Diwali, the annual Hindu festival of light.

New Delhi took the top spot, as it often does. It had an air quality index (AQI) figure of 407 on Monday, falling in the “hazardous” category, according to Swiss group IQAir.

Financial capital Mumbai came in sixth with an AQI of 157, while Kolkata in the east was seventh with an AQI of 154.

India Diwali pollution
Men row a boat on a smoggy Monday morning in Mumbai [Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters]

An AQI level of 400-500 affects healthy people and is dangerous to those with existing diseases, while a level of 150-200 brings discomfort to people with asthma, lung and heart problems. Levels of 0-50 are considered good.

A thick layer of smog had started accumulating in New Delhi from Sunday night, sending its AQI to an alarming 680 a little after midnight.

Every year, authorities ban firecrackers in the capital, but those bans rarely appear to be enforced.

India Diwali pollution
A view of New Delhi’s Signature Bridge on a smoggy Monday morning [Anushree Fadnavis/Reuters]

Parliamentarian Saket Gokhale posted a letter on X, formerly known as Twitter, in which he asked the local police for details on the number of cases of the use of firecrackers and the action taken against the perpetrators.

The Delhi Police spokesperson did not answer several calls made by the Reuters news agency asking for comment.

Air quality in northern India deteriorates every year ahead of winter when cold air traps pollutants from vehicles, industry, construction dust and agricultural waste burning.

Delhi state authorities postponed an earlier decision to restrict the use of vehicles after a brief spell of rain on Friday brought some respite from a week of toxic air.

The local government said it plans to maintain its ban on construction activities and to keep schools closed to protect people from the pollution.

Source: News Agencies