After Diwali celebrations, three Indian cities have found themselves among the ten most polluted in the world. New Delhi, the capital, unsurprisingly claimed the top spot with an air quality index (AQI) of 420, categorizing it as ‘hazardous,’ according to the Swiss group IQAir. Joining New Delhi in the top 10 are Kolkata in the east, ranking fourth with an AQI of 196, and Mumbai, the financial capital, securing the eighth position with an AQI of 163.
An AQI level of 400-500 is hazardous for healthy individuals and perilous for those with pre-existing conditions. Levels of 150-200 bring discomfort to people with asthma, lung, and heart problems, while levels of 0-50 are considered good.
The aftermath of Diwali festivities saw a thick layer of smog envelop New Delhi from Sunday night, pushing its AQI to an alarming 680 shortly after midnight. Despite annual bans on firecrackers in the capital, enforcement remains sporadic.
Air quality in India consistently worsens in the lead-up to winter, when cold air traps pollutants from vehicles, industry, construction dust, and agricultural waste burning. Although New Delhi authorities briefly considered restricting vehicle use after a short period of rain on Friday, they postponed the decision. The local government plans to review these measures after the Diwali period.