The Air Quality Index in Delhi and its surrounding areas saw a decline as people burst crackers on Sunday night, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to citizens to light candles and lamps to show solidarity in India’s fight against the novel coronavirus.

Air quality had significantly improved in several places after the imposition of the 21-day lockdown to slow down the spread of the coronavirus as people stayed at home, most factories shut down and transportation was suspended. The Yamuna river, which is often seen clogged with toxic foam, is also much cleaner.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board, the air quality index in Anand Vihar on Sunday afternoon was 97 – which in the satisfactory category. However, the air quality index slipped to 143 in the moderate category on Monday.

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The air quality index at Delhi's Anand Vihar on Sunday afternoon.
Anand Vihar on Monday.

The air quality index at Loni in Ghaziabad fell sharply from 176, or moderate, to 224, in the “poor” category, on Monday. The air quality index at Noida’s sector 125 on Monday was 120, or moderate as compared to 67 or satisfactory on Sunday afternoon.

Ghaziabad's air quality index on Sunday afternoon.
Ghaziabad's air quality index on Monday.

In Kolkata, the air quality index on Monday morning was 151, when compared to 139 on Saturday, according to PTI. An unidentified official told the news agency that the bursting of crackers had led to an increase in pollution levels in several parts of the city. “The cracker bursting has led to temporary concentration of respirable particulate matter in the air in certain pockets of the city and that would take time to dissipate,” he said.

Millions of Indians across the country participated in Modi’s appeal to light candles and lamps at their homes and turn off their lights to show solidarity in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic on Sunday 9 pm for nine minutes. The prime minister had said the collective strength would take the country out of what he termed “darkness that engulfs us” in the form of coronavirus.