The Delhi government on Monday offered to pay for the aerial sprinkling of water in the city to control air pollution during the winter. In a letter to Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan, Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain suggested that the Centre could consider sprinkling water using helicopters to settle particulate matter.

Hussain asked Vardhan to take up the matter with the Ministry of Civil Aviation. He said that the Aam Aadmi Party-led government was ready to bear the expenses from the Air Ambience Fund of Delhi Pollution Control Committee.

The Air Ambience Fund was set up in 2008 by the state government to boost environmental projects.

After Diwali festival celebrations on Thursday, the pollution in several areas of the city had surpassed normal levels. This followed the Supreme Court’s ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region till November 1 to monitor their impact on air quality.

Concentrations of 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 diameter) rose alarmingly. Levels of PM 2.5 grew more than those of PM 10.

At India Gate, the PM 2.5 level was 911 microns at 6 am on the morning after Diwali, alarmingly higher than the standard of 60 microns. At 8 am, the air quality index, at 326, was “very poor”. It was “severe” at Anand Vihar, with an air quality index of 403 and PM 2.5 levels at 416 microns.

In 2016, an alarming smog after Diwali in Delhi-NCR had forced schools to remain closed for three days and the National Green Tribunal to declare an environmental emergency in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.