Delhi’s air quality index remained in the “poor” category on Sunday, a day before Diwali, as a blanket of smog enveloped parts of the city.

Data from the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research showed that the National Capital recorded an air quality index of 251 at 6.30 am, according to NDTV.

Visuals by ANI showed vehicles travelling on roads amid smog near the Akshardham temple.

On Saturday evening, the air quality index in Delhi was 266, and the figure was in the “very poor” category at 327 in the Delhi University area.

Air quality between zero and 50 is classified as “good”, 51 to 100 is considered “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor”, and 401 and 500 “severe”.

A report by SAFAR on Saturday predicted that air quality in Delhi would remain in the “poor” level or the lower end of the “very poor” category till the October 24 morning.

The agency said that instances of stubble burning in the regions northwest of Delhi have been relatively low, with nearly 500 incidents reported till now. The share of stubble burning in the national capital’s PM2.5 pollution is currently below 5%, it said.

“However, transport level winds coming from Punjab-Haryana-W-UP towards Delhi will pick up from the 24th onwards and, in all likelihood, will bring stubble-related intrusion in Delhi significantly,” the report said.

It added: “If stubble burning increases gradually, which is likely, its share in Delhi’s PM2.5 [based on the average temporal variability of fire counts in the previous years] is likely to be 5% on the 23rd, 8% on 24th and 16-18% on the 25th October 2022.”

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai had said on Saturday that the government has started a 15-point Winter Action Plan to reduce air pollution, according to NDTV. He said that the plan will focus on preventing dust pollution, stubble burning, open burning of garbage and the bursting of firecrackers.

In September, the Delhi government had imposed a ban on production, sale and use of firecrackers till January 1 to prevent the city’s air quality from worsening in winter.

On October 19, Rai had announced that the purchasing and bursting of firecrackers in Delhi on Diwali will be punishable with a fine of Rs 200 and six months in jail.

He added that those who manufacture and store firecrackers in the city on October 24 could be fined up to Rs 5,000 and put in jail for up to three years. The offenders will be booked under the Explosives Act and Section 268 (public nuisance causing injury, obstruction, danger or annoyance to persons) of the Indian Penal Code, Rai said.