Festive firecrackers worsen Delhi's air quality to "severe emergency" category

Guwahati People busy buying green crackers for Diwali in Guwahati on Nov 7 2018

Guwahati People busy buying green crackers for Diwali in Guwahati on Nov 7 2018

Early morning at 1 am, smoke layer became thick and started to trap pollutants near the surface rapidly. However, it was recorded at 390 in the evening, barely improving to "very poor", but on the brink of re-entering severe category.

The SAFAR had warned that even if partial toxic firecrackers as compare to past year were burnt, then the air quality would fall in the severe category.

The concentration of PM2.5 and PM10, or particles with diameter less than 2.5 mm and 10mm, remained in "severe-plus" or "severe" levels.

The widespread burning of firecrackers in neighbouring states of Delhi is also adding to the pollution woes of the national capital apart from stubble burning, the agency said. It is poor when between 201 to 300 and very poor between 301 to 400.

The PM 2.5 level was 97 µg/m3 (microgrammes per cubic metre) on Wednesday, against a safe limit of 60 µg/m3.

The Central Pollution Control Board said the Air Quality Index (AQI), which takes into account other pollutants apart from PM as well, was 423, putting it in the "severe" category.

NEW DELHI-Pollution in the Indian capital New Delhi hit "severe" heights on Thursday after hundreds of revelers in the city let off fireworks long into the night to mark the major Hindu festival of Diwali.

A "very poor" AQI essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to the advisory issued by SAFAR.

The court also ruled that firecrackers could only be set off between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm, but their bangs were still reverberating around city neighbourhoods well after midnight.

Environmental lawyer Ritwick Dutta said the violation of the deadline was not unexpected as one can not expect an overnight change in people's behaviour because of a court order.

Violations of the Supreme Court order were reported from the areas comprising IP Extension, Mayur Vihar's Phase I, II and Extension in east Delhi, Lajpat Nagar in south Delhi, Lutyens Delhi, Dwarka in west Delhi and most of the sectors in Noida.

The SC had permitted the sale and manufacture of low emission "green" firecrackers countrywide and fixed a two-hour period for bursting them.

Meanwhile, curbs on pollution in Delhi continued, with the Traffic Police stopping trucks from entering the Capital, on orders of the Transport Department, said sources.

Delhi police had vowed to punish violaters of the Supreme Court order but could not immediately say whether charges had been made.

"We have asked all police stations to follow the Supreme Court's guidelines on bursting firecrackers and to ensure action against those violating it", Mumbai Police spokesperson Manjunath Singe said.

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