Delhi is facing the worst smog in 17 years, an environmental research institute based out of the national Capital said on Thursday. The Centre for Science and Environment flagged the deteriorating air pollution situation in the region and urged the Aam Aadmi Party government to issue health alerts, reported PTI.

The CSE also suggested that the government should put in place an effective winter pollution mitigation plan for the National Capital Region. "This demands emergency response to protect the vulnerable – those who are suffering from respiratory and heart diseases and children,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, head of CSE's air pollution and sustainable mobility teams.

The advocacy organisation said the levels of PM2.5 (particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter) increased by 62.7% on November 2 compared with that on October 30. They said the levels were 9.4 times the standard on November 2 and 11.6 times the standard on November 3. "Delhi needs strong action to protect people from such deadly exposure. Without strong action, smog is only expected to get worse this winter at serious public health costs," Roychowdhury said.

The Indian Meteorological Department had said that the Indira Gandhi International Airport recorded the worst levels of smog in 17 years on November 2. Delhi's Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday had said the government would soon initiate measures to curb the rising pollution. However, the government did not specify any deadline for these measures.

On Monday, the Union Environment Ministry had directed states around Delhi to enforce a ban on stubble burning (the burning of the straw left behind after the harvest of wheat and other crops). The ministry had also asked municipal bodies in Delhi to prevent the open burning of solid waste. The environment department will meet secretaries of the states on Friday to review the situation.