Diwali pollution test drive: Better, but not good enough

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

Diwali is always one of the worst times of year for air quality, as firework smoke mixes with auto exhaust fumes, factory emissions and construction dust.

Delhi pollution is also expected to remain severe to very severe for the next two days. There was, thus, a possibility that the wind could pick up at the upper level late in the night and push down the polluting particles, thereby keeping the air in the "severe" category on Saturday. The quality of air in Pitampura, Airport, Terminal 3 and Delhi University stood at 679, 481 and 801 respectively.

The Hyderabad Police on Thursday said that they have registered 71 cases on persons in various places of the city for bursting firecrackers after 10 pm on the occasion of Diwali yesterday.

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.

Partly as a result of smoke from the firecrackers, the overall AQI in Delhi jumped to 642 which falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category, according to the data by SAFAR. The US Embassy in the Delhi - which according to the World Health Organization is the most polluted city on Earth - said its readings touched 526.

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Sumaira Abdulali, founder of Awaaz Foundation, which has been campaigning against noise pollution for years, said, "All I can say is that the Supreme Court's guidelines were flouted, but the state government and its machinery tried their best to check people and adhere to the permissible time limit".

In gross violation of the Supreme Court order, people in several areas of Delhi burst firecrackers until at least midnight, two hours after the 10 pm deadline.

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.

The AQI around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium touched 999 (the maximum level for the monitors) while the USA embassy in Chanakyapuri scored 459, all under the "hazardous" category. It was around four times higher than Wednesday, "IITM said".

The areas where the violations were recorded included Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens' Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka and Noida Sector 78.

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