The residents of Delhi – recently pronounced the world's most polluted city - continue to grapple with a high level of particulate matter in the air, with pockets of the city recording a "very unhealthy" level of pollution, putting the elderly and children particularly at risk.
While PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter than can penetrate deep into the lungs) was recorded at around 170, 2.5 times higher than the permissible limit of 60, the average of PM 10 was 280, 2.8 times higher than the prescribed limit of 100.
Delhi has remained shrouded in a blanket of smog since the night of 30 October due to a host of factors including lack of wind movement and moisture, and has been dealt an added blow in the form of burning of paddy in the fields of neighbouring Punjab and Haryana.
The air quality will remain poor for the coming few days till there is adequate wind movement or rainfall. Paddy burning has only contributed to the haze which affects children and elderly suffering from asthma the most," a senior India Meteorological Department official said.
Cloudy skies will ensure that the situation sees little no improvement in the course of the next few days, the official added. Going by the level of pollutants, the situation is inching towards the "very poor" category with the onset of winter.
The World Air Quality Index by aquicn.org gave the capital's Anand Vihar area a rating of 233 at 2 pm on Monday, which falls under the "very unhealthy" category.
"Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is likely to be affected," the report said.
PM 10 level at Anand Vihar, which houses an inter-state bus terminal, was as high as 364 at around 4 pm, 3.6 times higher than the safe limit as per the Delhi Pollution Control Committee.
The other places which recorded alarming levels of air pollutants include Pusa Road, Mathura Road, Pitampura and RK Puram, areas situated across the city, showing that pollution is not limited to any particular zone.
In northwest Delhi's Pitampura PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels were recorded at 281 and 269 respectively in the afternoon, according to SAFAR's (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) air quality status.
(See: Toxic mix making Delhi a gas chamber: study).