Air quality in Delhi has always been a serious concern for the millions who call it home.
It has almost become a yearly ritual that this time around the national capital gets shrouded by a layer of pungent haze, thanks to raging farm fires (stubble burning) in the neighbouring states and falling wind speed amongst other reasons.
The union territory's air quality has deteriorated so much over the last couple of days that the residents are even complaining of watery eyes, and itchy throats.
People have also taken to social media posting videos and posts complaining about how Delhi has become a gas chamber.
One such post was a video shared by Vinamra Longani, an aviation analyst and a head of operations at Sarin & Co, a law firm.
Longani filmed the video on Wednesday showing a dense layer of haze with almost zero visibility as it smudged the land from view during take-off from Delhi airport.
"Behind this blanket of pollution seen in this video taken during take off from @DelhiAirport earlier today, is a city which millions call home. It is appalling what we have done to the environment. Similar scenes can be seen across North India at this time of the year," he tweeted.
Behind this blanket of pollution seen in this video taken during take off from @DelhiAirport earlier today, is a city which millions call home.— VT-VLO🇮🇳🏳️🌈✈️ (@Vinamralongani) November 4, 2020
It is appalling what we have done to the environment.
Similar scenes can be seen across North India at this time of the year. pic.twitter.com/2jZPRs0NZT
The smog shrouded visibility last night as well, marring the Karwa Chauth festivities, with many people taking to Twitter to crack light-hearted jokes with tags like #DelhiPollution and #KarwaChauth trending on social media.
Several netizens took to the microblogging site complaining about how the smog delayed the Karwa Chauth plans as the moon was hardly visible in all the haze that veiled the national capital.
Cricketer Suresh Raina also posted a post with sarcastic undertones targeting Delhi's poor air quality in his tweet."Dear Delhi, are you able to see the moon yet? I only see the smog! #DelhiPollution #KarwaChauth," Raina tweeted.
Experts are of the opinion that unfavourable meteorological conditions -- calm winds and low temperatures -- and smoke from farm fires in neighbouring states led to a dense layer of haze on Wednesday night as the air quality index entered the "severe" zone.
PM10 levels in Delhi-NCR stood at 561 microgram per cubic meter (ug/m3) at 8 is -- the highest since November 15 last year, when it was 637 ug/m3, according to CPCB data. PM10 levels below 100 ug/m3 are considered safe in India. PM10 is particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers which is inhalable. These particles include dust, pollen and mold spores.
The levels of PM2, finer particles which can even enter the bloodstream, were 347 ug/m3. PM2.5 levels up to 60 ug/m3 are considered safe.
On Wednesday evening, the noxious haze reduced visibility to merely 600 metres at the Safdarjung Observatory, smudging landmarks from view. It was 1,200 metres on Thursday morning.
If this was not enough, a large number of people across Delhi-NCR burst firecrackers to mark the festival of Karwa Chauth.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the maximum wind speed was 5 kilometres per hour on Thursday morning and the minimum temperature was 11.2 degrees Celsius. Calm winds and low temperatures trap pollutants close to the ground, while favourable wind speed helps in their dispersion.
Health experts are of the view that during the COVID-19 pandemic, air pollution has become a serious health concern for about the two crore residents of the national capital.