Diwali Fallout: Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai Rank Among World’s Most Polluted Cities

In the aftermath of Diwali celebrations, the air quality in major Indian cities has once again plummeted, drawing concerns over the hazardous levels of pollution. Delhi, known for its perennial battle with pollution, has yet again taken the unenviable top spot with an alarming Air Quality Index (AQI) of 420. It is categorized as ‘hazardous’ by the Swiss group IQAir. However, it is not alone in this struggle, as Kolkata and Mumbai have also found themselves among the world’s top 10 most polluted cities following the festival of lights.

Two Indian Cities Join Delhi in Pollution Woes

As the festive fervor settled, a thick blanket of smog enveloped New Delhi, intensifying the pollution crisis with an AQI peaking at an alarming 680 in the early hours after midnight. Joining the national capital, Kolkata secured the fourth position with an AQI of 196, while Mumbai, the financial hub, ranked eighth with an AQI of 163. These high AQI levels not only signify discomfort but also pose severe health risks, especially for individuals with existing respiratory or cardiovascular conditions.

Impact and Concerns

An AQI ranging from 400 to 500 is perilous for healthy individuals and highly dangerous for those already battling diseases, while an AQI of 150 to 200 brings discomfort to people with asthma, lung, and heart problems. The current levels are well beyond the healthy threshold, indicating a pressing need for immediate action to safeguard public health.

Despite annual bans on firecrackers, their widespread usage continues largely unchecked. The culmination of various factors like vehicular emissions, industrial pollutants, construction dust, and agricultural waste burning exacerbates the situation, particularly as winter approaches and traps the pollutants in the cold air.

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Authorities’ Response and Way Forward

Authorities in New Delhi initially contemplated restrictions on vehicular movement but postponed the decision following a brief spell of rain, providing a temporary respite from the toxic air. However, long-term solutions and stricter enforcement of regulations remain imperative to mitigate the recurring pollution crisis.


The aftermath of Diwali in major Indian cities like Delhi, Kolkata, and Mumbai serves as a stark reminder of the persistent environmental challenges exacerbated by festivities. The alarming levels of pollution not only pose immediate health hazards but also underscore the pressing need for long-term strategies to address this recurring issue.

The annual post-Diwali scenario highlights the collective responsibility to prioritize environmental consciousness and adopt sustainable practices. Efforts to curb vehicular emissions, stricter enforcement of regulations, and fostering public awareness are pivotal steps. Additionally, investing in cleaner energy sources, promoting green initiatives, and adopting innovative technologies can contribute to a significant reduction in pollution levels.

The need of the hour is a concerted effort from authorities, communities, and individuals to prioritize environmental conservation and public health. Collaborative actions, supported by stringent policies and public participation, are crucial in steering these cities towards a future where clean air and sustainable living are not compromised for fleeting celebrations. By collectively addressing the root causes of pollution, India can pave the way for a healthier, greener, and more vibrant future for its citizens.