NEW DELHI: The capital region, which woke up choking in a thick layer of toxic smoke on Thursday, saw its air quality drop rapidly to the ‘severe’ zone by 5pm, forcing authorities to enforce stage III of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) under which Delhi primary schools were shut for the next two days and vehicles with older emissions standards were barred from running in several NCR districts.
Delhi’s air quality started deteriorating from 8am when the average Air Quality Index stood at 351, reaching 392 by 4pm and 402 by 5pm, thereby entering the severe category for the first time this season. By 8pm, the AQI had worsened to 417, as per Central Pollution Control Board’s data.
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At 8pm, the most polluted stations were Mundka (475), Anand Vihar (474), Rohini (472), Bawana (466), Narela (448) and Dwarka Sec-8 (446).
Experts said a rise in stubble burning and adverse meteorological conditions led to a sudden deterioration in air quality. The night saw calm conditions while light winds of up to 3kmph blew during the day, which prevented dispersal of pollutants.

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