- Post Diwali, Delhi air turned 'severe' for the first time in 2017
- Chennai saw high levels of air pollution on Diwali
- Kolkata: Post Diwali, ozone, a pollutant reached a 'severe' 451
It is nearly two week since Diwali, the festival of lights that spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair. But every year, Diwali becomes the festival that chokes our cities, with sharp dip in air quality. This year Supreme Court banned sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR till November 1 and restrictions were also imposed in other cities.
So, what has been the impact of these measures this year, post Diwali? Had there been a decrease in the level of pollution?
Here are major developments that took place post Diwali:
1. Like every year, this year also, Delhi woke up to a hazy day after a fun filled Diwali. Post Diwali, on October 20, Delhi’s air had turned ‘severe’ for the first time in 2017. Data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) showed that the Air Quality Index (AQI) value of Delhi on the day of Diwali at 4 pm was a very poor 319 and shot up to an average of 373 at 12 am on October 20 against the safe level, which is moderate AQI of 51-100. Anand Vihar in Delhi was the most polluted region, with an AQI of 403 and was labeled as “severe.” Though the air quality was and is better than last year, but people are still facing breathing problems especially during morning and evening hours.
Despite the Supreme Court ban, firecrackers were sold and people somehow managed to procure these. Some got firecrackers through online websites and some travelled to other places to purchase firecrackers.
The Supreme Court imposed the ban to try and see a firecracker free Diwali and how it helps in curbing air pollution in Delhi-NCR. Though the ban was not imposed on the bursting of firecrackers, Delhi’s “I don’t care” attitude led to this deterioration in air quality and now all the city can do is fight and face its repercussion.
2. According to a nine-city air quality analysis by the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB), Mumbai breathed the most polluted air in the state during Diwali. According to MPCB’s report, AQI in Mumbai on Diwali was a moderate 196, and 219 on the following day.
Last year, the city recorded moderate levels of air pollution on Diwali and the flowing day – 115 and 110. Post Diwali, Mumbai’s air pollution level has witnessed a decline. Data from the CPCB showed that AQI on October 26 at 4PM was a moderate 132. This is despite the Bombay High Court imposing a blanket ban on the sale of firecrackers in residential area.
3. Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, suffered a lot during Diwali as air pollution was at an alarming high and is still breathing highly polluted air. According to CPCB, a day before Diwali the city had ‘poor’ AQI with an index value of 263, and it shot up to 302 on the day of Diwali. Now, the city’s air quality index has come down to a satisfactory 73 with PM2.5 being one of the prominent pollutants.
4. Kolkata too witnessed unprecedented high levels of air pollutants on Diwali. On the morning of October 20, ozone, a pollutant, reached a ‘severe’ 451 in the area near Rabindra Bharat University. The West Bengal Pollution Control Board had imposed a restriction on 90 decibel sound limit firecrackers and bursting of firecrackers after 10PM. The level of pollution eased up thanks to the spasmodic rainfall on the day of Diwali. Rainfall resulted in settlement of pollutants in the air and this is clear with the data released by CPCB. According to CPCB, air quality index on October 26 at 4PM was a moderate 146.
5. Bhiwadi in Rajasthan also made it to the list of highly polluted areas on Diwali. PM 2.5 level in RIICO Industrial Area-III, Bhiwadi reached a severe 359 on the morning of October 20. City proved to be one of the most polluted cities in Delhi-NCR on the day of Diwali. Since then, level of pollution has come down from severe to very poor and CPCB recorded an index value of 386 on October 26 at 4PM.
Every year, post Diwali, air quality worsens and makes it difficult for people (especially children and elder) to breathe and this year too most of the states were covered under a thick blanket of smog. While Delhi and Mumbai performed better than last year, other cities like Bhiwadi in Rajasthan (AQI 259), Agra in Uttar Pradesh (AQI 332) need to pay attention. While firecrackers during Diwali are one of the many reasons for poor air quality, the distinct drop air quality across cities shows that its effect cannot be negated. While banning crackers may cause a dent, the need of the hour is for people to do their bit and not contribute to the choking in our cities.