Diwali leaves Delhi wheezing in unhealthy air

New Delhi woke up breathing in the most dangerously polluted air of the year so far on Friday (November 5) after firecrackers were set off at the country's biggest festival, Diwali - despite a ban in the Indian capital.

The city already has the worst air quality of all world capitals.

But even by its standards, Friday's reading was extra bad.

Under a blanket of toxic smog, the Air Quality Index surged to 451 on a scale of 500.

The index measures the concentration of poisonous particulate matter PM2.5 in a cubic meter of air.

In Delhi, the reading on Friday averaged at 706 micrograms.

The World Health Organization deems anything above an annual average of 5 micrograms as unsafe.

Every year, either government authorities or India's Supreme Court impose a ban on firecrackers. But the bans rarely appear to be enforced.

Indian governments are often accused of not doing enough to curb pollution, prioritizing economic growth instead to lift living standards.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow on Monday (November 1) that India would achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070.

But some experts reckoned that target was at least two decades too late.

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