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Diwali fireworks push air pollution to ‘severe’ level in India’s capital

10 November 2018, 05:07 | Devin Moran

Auto rickshaw drivers pass a building site in Old Delhi

Auto rickshaw drivers pass a building site in Old Delhi

Government agencies such as SAFAR had predicted Delhi could encounter severe levels of pollution from November 8 even if 50% of the firecrackers as compared to 2017 were burst this year.

The national capital saw its first smog episode on November 5. Worryingly, the entire state has only 3 continuously updated air monitoring centres. "Our devices take readings of PM 1, PM 2.5 and PM 10 (as well as temperature and humidity) every minute, and an average can be computed based on duration of exposure", said Ronak Sutaria, Founder, Urban Sciences, whose "Atmos' air quality devices were used for Mirror's test drive".

A thick haze settled over Delhi on November 8 as firecracker emissions mixed with the air.

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

India's Supreme Court ruled last month that only environmentally friendly fireworks - that emit less smoke and soot - can be sold in Delhi, in a bid to cut the smog that has scarred the city's worldwide reputation. "Vehicles carrying essential goods are exempted", Joint Commissioner of Police, Traffic, Delhi, said. The overall AQI of the city was 11 times the permissible limit.




Areas affected the most included Anand Vihar (AQI: 999), Lodhi Road (AQI: 500), Chanakyapuri (AQI 459) and the localities around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium (AQI: 999), all under "hazardous" category.

Twenty three areas in Delhi recorded "severe" air quality while eight recorded "very poor" quality air, according to Central Pollution Control Board.

The Supreme Court had earlier allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8pm to 10pm only on Diwali in the Delhi-NCR and the sale of "green crackers" by the licensed vendors but the ruling was smoked up in the air by the Delhiites.

According to SAFAR, the air quality in Delhi had "improved significantly" since Thursday, but the recovery was "slow due to low surface wind speed".

The court had asked police to ensure that banned fireworks were not sold and said in case of any violation the commanding officer of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of the court.



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