Delhi on Monday reported the sharpest post-Diwali rise in air pollution since 2015 and the city’s air quality is likely to turn severe on Tuesday, The Indian Express reported.

The pollution levels rose after revellers in many areas lit firecrackers till late on Sunday night despite a ban imposed by the government.

The national capital’s 24-hour average air quality index on Sunday was 218 in the “poor” category at 4 pm. On Monday, however, air quality deteriorated to 358 in the “very poor” category at the same time, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.

An air quality index between zero and 50 is considered “good”, 51 and 100 “satisfactory”, 101 and 200 “moderate”, 201 and 300 “poor”, 301 and 400 “very poor” and 401 and 500 “severe”. An AQI in the “very poor” category can lead to respiratory illness on prolonged exposure.

Last year, Delhi’s air quality on the day after Diwali was better at 303. However, the city’s post-Diwali air quality in the past two years has been better than the period between 2015 and 2021.

The Air Quality Early Warning System under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences predicted that pollution in Delhi will turn severe on Tuesday and will remain at that level till November 16. The city’s air quality is likely to remain in the “very poor” to “severe” categories in the next six days, according to a bulletin by the early warning system.

In September, the Delhi government had reimposed a ban on the production, sale, storage and use of all types of firecrackers in the city as part of its plan to control pollution levels in the winter months. This was the third consecutive year that the government has imposed a ban on sale and use of firecrackers.

Later in September, the Supreme Court had rejected a plea seeking to allow the use of barium in green firecrackers.

Also read: This Diwali, Delhi had the best AQI in eight years – before firecrackers took over

However, Bharatiya Janata Party social media cell chief Amit Malviya claimed on Monday morning that blaming firecrackers for the rise in pollution levels was an attempt to “malign Hindus”.

On Diwali evening, the Delhi BJP’s vice-president, Kapil Mishra, said that the people of the city were “bravely defying” the ban on firecrackers, which he described as unscientific, illogical and dictatorial.

“These are voices of resistance, voices of freedom and democracy,” he said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Monday said that air pollution in the city rose as firecrackers were lit at some places in a targeted manner.

“The way some Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were inciting people...the city is suffering the consequences today,” he said.

Rai said it was unfortunate that the BJP was not willing to act responsibly in spite of the Supreme Court’s directions.

Parking fees of private vehicles doubled

Amid the rising pollution levels, the New Delhi Municipal Council doubled the charges for parking spaces that it maintains in an attempt to discourage citizens from using private vehicles, PTI reported.

There are 91 parking sites in the New Delhi Municipal Council area. Out of these, the council itself maintains 41, and has outsourced the maintenance of the rest to private agencies.

The New Delhi Municipal Council currently charges Rs 20 per hour and a maximum of Rs 100 per day for four-wheelers, and Rs 10 per hour and a maximum of Rs 50 per day for two-wheelers.