Pollution experts on Wednesday said the Capital’s air quality had improved, after nearly one week of “severe” levels of smog and pollutants, PTI reported. The 24-hour average of respirable pollutants PM 2.5 and PM 10 (particulate matters that are 10 or less than 10, and 2.5 or less than 2.5 micrometres in diametre) in Delhi were recorded at 246 micrograms and 405 micrograms, placing them in the “very poor” category, PTI reported.

The improvement was attributed to the rise in wind speed from western regions instead of north-western ones, where stubble burning is heavily practised. A Ministry of Earth Sciences scientist said conditions for the “dispersion of pollutants” would remain favourable for the next few days.

Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court directed civic bodies to clean up the city in two weeks, and asked why they were not interested in maintaining hygiene. A bench of the court comprising Justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Ashutosh Kumar said the “rubble and dust” was contributing to air pollution and medical ailments for the public. “Clean up Delhi. Do your job,” the court said.

The bench directed officials to file a status report on the amount of rubble removed from the capital’s streets and said the heads of departments would personally be held responsible for non-compliance with its orders.

The high court’s orders came a day after the Supreme Court sought a detailed plan from the Centre on its plans to tackle the alarming levels of pollution in Delhi. It made note of suggestions offered by the Environment Pollution Control Authority, environmentalist Sunita Narain and other parties and directed the government to frame a Common Minimum Programme in 48 hours’ time.

Justice AK Sikri had criticised the public’s complete disregard for warnings about environmental damage during their Diwali celebrations. “We have to look at why in the name of religious occasions we are being allowed to kill others,” he said in reference to citizens bursting crackers.

On Monday, Delhi Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung had directed authorities to ban firecrackers from being burst in the region during occasions other than religious festivals.