A public health emergency has been declared after air quality dropped to the “severe” category on the Air Quality Index in Delhi and the National Capital Region on Tuesday. The Indian Medical Association declared Delhi in a state of public health emergency, the organisation’s president Dr KK Aggarwal told ANI. “Schools should be shut and people must avoid stepping out,” Aggarwal said.

Pedestrians and motorists make their way through thick smog in New Delhi on Tuesday (PTI)
A traffic policeman on duty near India Gate, which was enveloped in a thick cloud of smog, on Tuesday (PTI)

In areas close to Delhi Technological University in North Delhi, an air quality index value of 441 was recorded on Tuesday, Hindustan Times reported citing figures from the Central Pollution Control Board. Air quality was “very poor” in East Delhi’s Anand Vihar, while areas close to Burari crossing in North Delhi were relatively better with an Air Quality Index of 364.

The level of PM 2.5 – particulate matter in the air that is smaller than 2.5 microns – touched 452, while PM10 rose to 336, reported The Indian Express. The visibility in the city on Tuesday morning dropped to 200 metres, according to Hindustan Times.

PM 2.5 across India on Tuesday.
The smog covered Delhi's Lodhi Gardens on Tuesday morning (PTI)

Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index on Monday was 354 and it was 368 on Sunday, The Times of India reported. Ghaziabad and Noida remained NCR’s worst-affected areas, recording “severe” category air quality.

Low visibility, caused by increased pollution levels, hindered Delhi commuters on Tuesday (PTI)

Meanwhile, the Indian Medical Association urged Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to cancel the Airtel Delhi Half Marathon on November 19, because of high-level of air pollution, ANI reported.

More than 20 flights at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport were delayed or affected after authorities shut the runway owing to the smog.

Security personnel jog through thick smog at Rajpath (PTI)

Ahead of Diwali, the Supreme Court had banned firecrackers in the NCR. The air quality in the Capital this Diwali season was the cleanest in the past three years, according to a report released by the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research. However, the city’s air quality had turned “severe” the day after Diwali, for the first time this year.

People practice yoga despite the smog at Lodhi Gardens in New Delhi (PTI)
Cyclists and motorists make their way through the smog in New Delhi (AFP)