The Supreme Court ruled last month that only environmentally friendly crackers - that emit less smoke and soot - can be sold in Delhi, in a bid to cut the smog that has scarred the city's worldwide reputation.
A high level of tiny particulate matter can lodge deep into the lungs and cause major health problems.
The overall air quality index or AQI was 10 times the safe limit - AQI above 500 falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category, according to the government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research. The 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) at midnight stood at 423.
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Many others said the ceaseless bursting of firecrackers on Diwali night in violation of the court directive has highlighted the difficulties faced by government agencies in enforcing orders when laws are routinely flouted and accentuated the "large gap" between the law and the capacity to enforce it. Early morning at 1 am, smoke layer became thick and started to trap pollutants near the surface rapidly.
The Noida Police booked 47 people for bursting firecrackers on Diwali beyond the two-hour time limit, PTI reported quoting officials.
While other cities across north India recorded AQI scores of between 300 and 350, the air was significantly better in central and southern cities - with with the air in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, deemed "satisfactory" with a AQI score of only 64. According to the SAFAR, the moisture in the air on Wednesday was normal, thus reducing the pollution load slightly.
The court had asked the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and said in case of any violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of court.
On Wednesday night Delhites largely defied a court order and set off an huge barrage of smoke-spewing firecrackers to celebrate the major Hindu festival of Diwali, sending pollution levels soaring.