India

New Delhi covered in ‘toxic smog’ after residents defy Diwali fireworks ban

AP/Manish Swarup

New Delhi has been engulfed in “toxic smog” a day after residents defied a fireworks ban in the city while celebrating the Hindu festival of lights, Reuters reports

The city saw a sharp drop in air pollution levels during Diwali celebrations last year amid pandemic restrictions and a ban on gatherings. This year, the city was once again engulfed in smog after celebrations continued throughout the night.

Delhi’s chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, had announced a complete ban on all fireworks sales in the city until January. 

City residents flouted the ban and set off fireworks regardless. Local media reports that 281 people were arrested in Delhi for violating firecracker ban between Sept. 29 and Nov. 4. 

As a result, New Delhi’s Air Quality Index — a measure how concentrated poisonous particle matter is in the air — rose to a record high of 451 on a scale of 500.

In India, toxic air kills more than a million people every year. 

The country has an air pollutant particulate matter concentration seven times higher than the World Health Organization’s guideline. The average Indian life expectancy is cut by 5.9 years because of air pollution, a study found earlier this year. In more populous states in the country, like Uttar Pradesh, life expectancy is shortened by up to 11.1 years.

At the recently held U.N. Climate Change Conference summit, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the country is committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2070 and generating 50 percent of its power from renewable energy by 2030.

Tags Air quality climate Diwali New Delhi Pollution
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