Authorities on Tuesday hiked vehicle parking fees by four times in Delhi in a bid to curb worsening air quality in the capital as the high-pollution winter months kicked in. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) here to discourage people from using private vehicles as air pollution worsened further and touched more alarming proportions on Tuesday. The National Capital Region saw its worst air quality and smog situation of the year — which was even worse than a day after Diwali, as a yellow blanket of smog hung heavily in the sky.

The pollution level rose to dangerous levels, with 18 out of 21 active pollution monitoring stations recording “severe” air quality. What appeared to be a normal fog in the morning was actually the smog containing fatal pollutants in it. The Central Pollution Control Board recorded a frightening level of 446 on Air Quality Index (AQI) in some parts of Delhi. The lowest AQI in the whole of NCR was in Gurgaon which was recorded at 357, which comes under the category of very poor air quality.

Following this hazardous situation and worsening air quality index in Delhi, the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has declared a health emergency in the national capital and issued an advisory in public interest. People in the national capital have also been advised to stay indoors. The main cause of such a bad condition of air quality in Delhi and NCR is the burning of crop stubble as Delhi shares its border with farming states like Uttar Pradesh and Haryana.

It was the second time after Diwali when Delhi experienced such a pathetic state of pollution level in the city. Earlier on October 20, Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi and NCR had once again worsened causing problems to people especially those suffering from Asthmatic or breathing issues.