People of Delhi woke up to a thick blanket of smog on Monday with the air quality index (AQI) deteriorating further in the national capital region (NCR).
As stubble burning continues in Punjab and Haryana, New Delhi's air quality was recorded "poor" for the fifth consecutive day on Monday with AQI crossing the 235-mark at several places, including Jahagirpuri.
The AQI showed increased levels of pollution in parts Delhi-NCR - major pollutants PM 2.5 stood at 223 and PM 10 at 217, both in the poor category, at Lodhi Road.
Delhiites breathed toxic air for the fourth consecutive day on Sunday as the overall AQI reached 270 (poor category).
On Sunday, Delhi's Anand Vihar experienced 'very poor' air with the AQI at crossing the 325 marks.
The AQI in Ghaziabad, Greater Noida, Noida and Loni also hit the 'very poor category' mark for the first time on Sunday and is likely to deteriorate further as per experts.
PM 2.5 and PM 10 remained the primary pollutants adding to the trouble. PM 2.5 and PM 10 are micro-pollutants, which enter the respiratory system and result in breathing discomfort on prolonged exposure.
No respite is underway as per the Indian Meteorological Department. "The wind speeds are likely to blow at 10 to 15 kmph and a change in the pattern is underway but it is marginal and won't disperse the haze prevailing over Delhi NCR," said Dr Naresh Kumar, a scientist at the Indian Meteorological Department.
About AQI levels
An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.
This is the season when the farmers of Punjab and northern parts of Haryana resort to massive burning of rice stubble to quickly get their fields ready for the next crop: wheat. Satellite data captured by the Punjab Remote Sensing Centre found that there were 40,510 fire incidents in Punjab alone, between September 27 and November 9, roughly coinciding with the Kharif harvest season. Rice is produced on about 28 lakh hectares in the state, marginally lower than the 35 lakh hectares on which wheat is grown, according to data available with Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.