More than 300 arrested as New Delhi plunged into toxic Diwali smog

Heavy pollution during early morning hours after Diwali night in New Delhi on Thursday

The court had asked the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold. The air quality index on Mysuru Road was 145 on Thursday while last week it was 79.

India is home to 14 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world (WHO).

The Supreme Court had earlier allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8pm to 10pm only on Diwali in the Delhi-NCR and the sale of "green crackers" by the licensed vendors but the ruling was smoked up in the air by the Delhiites.

The national capital recorded its worst air quality of the year today with the overall index rising to 574, which falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category, according to data by the centre-run SAFAR.

In a bid to combat the toxic smog that has engulfed the city, the Delhi government has banned the entry of trucks from Thursday 11 pm till 11 pm on Sunday.

According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the PM 2.5 level on Friday morning was 272 (severe) and PM 2.5 level was 422 (very poor).

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Early morning ambient air quality readings in Delhi - the world's most polluted major city, according to the World Health Organisation - touched 526, according to the USA embassy in the city which independently monitors pollution levels.

The concentration of PM2.5 and PM10 had increased from 50 per cent to 70 per cent last night, indicating an increased share of locally-generated firecracker emissions, SAFAR said.

Despite the order, certain places reported violation of the specified time period. The AQI rose from 281 at 7 pm to 291 an hour later and by 10 pm, it was 296, said the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

The areas where the violations were recorded included Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens' Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka and Noida Sector 78.

A "very poor" AQI translates into spike in respiratory illnesses and if the air quality dips further, the AQI turns "severe", which troubles healthy individuals and seriously affects those with health issues.

Twitter users took to the microblogging site posting pictures of people burning crackers wearing masks and slammed the "mass contempt" of Supreme Court's order.

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