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'Smoggy Days' are Back In Delhi Ahead of Diwali Due to India's Relaxation of Lockdown Restrictions

© AP Photo / Manish SwarupA man rides a scooter on a road enveloped by smoke and smog, on the morning following the Diwali festival in New Delhi, India, 31 October 2016.
A man rides a scooter on a road enveloped by smoke and smog, on the morning following the Diwali festival in New Delhi, India, 31 October 2016.  - Sputnik International
In the last two months, the world’s biggest COVID-19-induced lockdown, executed by the Indian government, has been relaxed to some extent. As more and more people have begun flocking the roads of India's cities, including the capital Delhi, the days of “good air quality” amid the lockdown seem to be drawing to a close.

In September, Delhi, which had been plagued by air pollution and smog for several years, recorded “moderate” air quality days, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) fluctuating between 100-200. This has emerged as a matter of concern for environmental experts, who have noted that until around August, the air quality was “good”.

“Rain has stopped. Wind speed has reduced. The accumulation of particles in the atmosphere is building up. There are possibly more vehicles (on the road) as services get unlocked. Suspended dust will start increasing as we approach winter,” the Hindustan Times quoted Sachin D. Ghude, a scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology who is also associated with Delhi’s early air quality warning system under the Earth Sciences Ministry as saying on Wednesday.

​The news comes just months before the the Hindu festival season; during Diwali, the festival of lights, fireworks play a major role in the celebration.

Indian national Flag waving under clear blue sky on Red Fort, Delhi - Sputnik International
#EarthDay: It Took Shutting Down Everything to Get Blue Skies Again - Indian Environmentalist
Choking and blinding smog usually covers several parts of India, especially Delhi after the Diwali celebrations.

Some weeks into the lockdown that was imposed late in March, social media platforms in India had started flooding with astounding pictures of magnificent blue clouds, lush green trees and exponentially increased visibility escorted by the restrictions on traveling and working of smoke-producing factories.

In May, Delhi’s overall AQI dropped to 77, making the air easier to breathe amid the respiratory illness pandemic.

​Now that the government has eased lockdown restrictions in a bid to stabilise the economy, a clear difference in the atmosphere is visible in pictures and videos showing traffic jams and smog hovering over the city. Netizens have also observed the changes and expressed their views on social media. 

​Earlier this week, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai held a crucial meeting with senior officials to discuss ways to deal with the extreme levels of pollution in the city during late autumn and the winter months, particularly following Diwali.

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