Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had banned the use and sale of fireworks before Diwali, but the policy was difficult to implement.
Revelers in the capital set off massive amounts of fireworks until Sunday morning, prompting angry residents and environmentalists to complain on social media of breathing difficulties and stinging eyes.
“Our gods should be so happy today, that their followers detonated fireworks and strangled the little ones to despair and death,” said Vimlindo Jha, founder of the non-profit environmental group Swechha.
Some have defended the fireworks as part of a religious tradition celebrated by millions across the country.
Tarun Vijay, leader of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said on Twitter, “Do you realize how the whole of India, and all places, stood in defiance against the fireworks ban? It is a form of Hindu freedom battle cry.”
Air pollution in New Delhi is usually exacerbated in October and November by farmers burning agricultural waste, coal-fired power plants, traffic, and windless days.
The outbreak of the coronavirus epidemic, with more than 400,000 cases in the city of 20 million people, has also heightened concern about smog. Doctors have warned of a sharp increase in respiratory diseases.
Average air quality indicators measured at various locations within major cities in these states were higher than last year, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board.