Day after Diwali, Delhi's air turns 'hazardous'

Deepika S

New Delhi, Nov 8: A thick haze engulfed the national capital and adjoining regions on Thursday, despite a subdued Diwali after the Supreme Court ordered that only "green" firecrackers could be burst for two hours in the Capital and the National Capital Region.

News agency ANI reported Air Quality Index (AQI) in Anand Vihar was 999, the area around the US embassy in Chanakyapuri 459 and that around the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium was 999, all of which falls under the hazardous category.

It said particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10 were at 500 or severe level in Lodhi Road area citing data from AQI.Experts had warned of a spike in the pollution levels after Diwali even if "partially toxic crackers" are burnt compared to last year.

Anand Vihar records very high pollution

Areas like Anand Vihar, ITO and Jahangirpuri recorded very high pollution levels.

Violations of the Supreme Court order were reported from Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka, Noida Sector 78 among other places.

209 calls received by Delhi fire services on Diwali

As many as 209 calls were received by the Delhi Fire Services on Diwali, including one related to a huge fire in a factory at Bawana, officials said. Of these, 89 calls were related to fire incidents at garbage and dump yards, while the rest were related to fire incidents involving electric wires, at factories and residential areas, a senior Delhi Fire Services officer was quoted as saying by PTI.

Pollution levels would peak between 11 am and 3 am Wednesday and Thursday: SAFAR

The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city indicated 'poor' and 'very poor' air quality as the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 8 pm. According to the CPCB data, the 24-hour rolling average of PM2.5 and PM10 were 164 and 294 micrograms per cubic metre respectively.

The SAFAR forecast 'bad' air quality Thursday even though partially toxic crackers were burst as compared to 2017. It also said the pollution levels would peak between 11 am and 3 am Wednesday and Thursday.

The situation was similar, if not worse, in the neighbouring areas of Delhi such as Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad, where crackers were burst as usual, raising question marks on the efficacy of the administration in enforcing the apex court's ban.

Health Hazards

A "very poor" AQI essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air. If the air quality dips further, the AQI will turn "severe", which may trouble even those with sound health conditions and seriously affect those with ailments.

Violation of SC order

Admitting "sporadic" breaches of the Supreme Court order on bursting Diwali crackers beyond the time frame of 8pm to 10pm fixed by it, senior Delhi Police officials said, "We are monitoring the situation."

"There have been sporadic cases of violations. In some areas, people have been found burning firecrackers beyond 8pm-10pm time frame. The exact number of violations is yet to be ascertained. But, we will take strict action against them," said a Delhi Police official.

They said they had been continuously patrolling the city to check for violations during Diwali festivities.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting firecrackers only between 8pm and 10pm on Diwali, while permitting manufacturing and sale of only "green crackers" with low emission of light, sound and smoke.

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