The coronavirus pandemic in India is not over. On Sunday, India's total coronavirus caseload went past 88 lakh. Apart from the huge spike in cases in Delhi-NCR, with around 8,000 cases being reported daily, the national capital is facing another problem - extremely poor air quality which may aggravate the health crisis.
Delhi’s air quality remained in the “severe” category the morning after Diwali with blatant violations of the ban on firecrackers and stubble burning resulting in a thick layer of smog and poor visibility in several areas.
The overall air quality index (AQI) at 7am stood at 468 in the 'severe' category, the highest level of air pollution of the six-point measuring scale which categorises the air in ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’, ‘moderate’, ‘poor’, ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ categories.
This is despite the blanket ban on firecrackers. Ahead of Diwali, most states across India has banned bursting or selling of firecrackers in order to keep pollution at bay. Poor air quality can further create problems for the Covid-19 patients. A study based on the Covid-19 data of the United States of America conducted by the Harvard University suggests that those living in areas with high levels of air pollution are 11 percent more likely to die if they get infected by Covid-19 than those living in areas with lower pollution levels.
But the ban on firecrackers, or the countless pleas on social media, fell on deaf ears. As visuals on Twitter and Facebook are proof, several Indians chose to deliberately ignore the ban and burst crackers anyway. In videos that have gone viral, netizens have complained about crackers being burst in their neighbourhood.
Some even took to Twitter to share visuals of them bursting crackers, in direct defiance of the ban:
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had imposed a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) from November 9 midnight to November 30 midnight. It had clarified that the direction will apply to all cities and towns in the country where the average of ambient air quality during November 2019 was in "poor" and above categories. But fireworks could be heard going off till later into the night on Saturday.
The Delhi Police arrested 10 people and registered 12 cases for sale of firecrackers in the national capital in violation of the ban. Police also registered 14 cases for bursting firecrackers -- four in east, seven in northeast and three in northwest districts -- during the day and 12 people were arrested, Additional PRO (Delhi Police) Anil Mittal said.