SC ban on firecrackers flouted, air pollution increased six times

Indo Asian News Service

New Delhi, Nov 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court ban during Diwali was violated in full swing across Delhi and NCR with people bursting firecrackers till late night leading to thick haze on Thursday morning and deteriorating air quality, which experts say was six times higher than normal.

"The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi and National Capital Region between 8 and 9 p.m. on Wednesday was recorded around 150-160. It continued increasing slowly and crossed 250 (severe category) by 3 a.m. The AQI crossed 300 (very severe category) by 6 a.m. The AQI index increased because of bursting of firecrackers," a Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) official told IANS requesting anonymity.

Asked if the CSE has any data on bursting of firecrackers in Delhi and NCR, the official said: "CSE is not taking much stand exactly on firecrackers this time but it (pollution) was 6.5 times higher in Delhi and NCR than the standard (60) category within 24 hours."

Delhiites continued to burst firecrackers on Diwali long after the 10 p.m. deadline set by the Supreme Court. Despite the apex court's order imposing stringent rules on sale of firecrackers and its use, people managed to buy it illegally from the sellers in neighbourhood markets.

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 police admitted that there were violations, adding that they would take serious legal action against sellers.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed the manufacture and sale of only "green crackers", which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.

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.

Delhi Police said it seized over 1,300 kg of firecrackers during overnight operation on Diwali across the city following tip off, arrested over 50 people and registered more than 25 cases.

Of the seizure, over 700 kg of firecrackers were seized from south Delhi, 140 kg from North West Delhi, 200 kg from Dwarka, 278 kg from South East and 72 kg form North Delhi, said police.

The Delhi Fire Service (DFS) department said it received a total of 501 calls within 32 hours -- between 12.1 a.m. on Wednesday and 8 a.m. on Thursday -- on the occasion of Diwali. It was all time higher since 2007.

The DFS said it received 271 calls -- 256 related to fire and 15 of rescue and other -- between 12.1 a.m. to 11.59 p.m. on Wednesday. From 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. the DFS said to have received 230 fire calls.

The number calls received by DFS during Diwali was 204 in 2017 and 243 in 2016, 290 in 2015, 211 in 2014, 177 in 2013, 184 in 2012, 206 in 2011, 169 in 2010, 207 in 2009, 158 in 2008 and 184 in 2007.

Chief fire officer (DFS) Atul Garg told IANS the fire related calls were received from all across the national capital and the peak time was between 6 p.m. on Wednesday to 6 a.m. on Thursday. "A total of 223 calls were received during this period."

--IANS

rak/vsc/sed