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Diwali 2018: Delhiites burst firecrackers beyond 10 pm deadline, air quality nosedives towards ‘very poor’ category

The Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the overall AQI at 319, which falls in the "very poor" category.

Edited by: India TV News Desk, New Delhi [ Updated: November 08, 2018 8:41 IST ]

Delhi's air quality nosedives towards ‘very poor’ on Diwali

Diwali was celebrated with traditional fervour and gaiety across India on Wednesday with earthen lamps dotting houses and lights decking up buildings.

People visited their kith and kin, exchanged festive greetings and sweets while social media, including the likes of WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, was flooded with Diwali messages as many took the virtual route to convey their wishes.

Meanwhile, Delhi air quality nosedived towards the "very poor" category on Diwali day as people violated a Supreme Court order and burst firecrackers before and after the 8 pm to 10 pm timeframe in many areas. 

The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 296 at 10 pm. The AQI was 281 at 7 pm. It rose to 291 at 8 pm and further deteriorated to 294 at 9 pm, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

However, the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) recorded the overall AQI at 319, which falls in the "very poor" category.

Watch: Delhi's air quality nosedives towards ‘very poor’ category on Diwali

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed 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 the court.

But despite the apex court order, there were reports of its violation from many areas in the national capital.

Several areas showed a spike in the air 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.

The police admitted that there were violations, adding that they would take serious legal action against those violating the apex court order.

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.

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.

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 dumpyards, while the rest were related to fire incidents involving electric wires, at factories and residential areas, a senior Delhi Fire Services officer said. 

The officials said the number of calls related to firecrackers was comparatively low, but there was no decline in the number of calls related to fire incidents.

The Centre, in collaboration with the Delhi government, has launched a 10-day "Clean Air Campaign" from November 1 to 10 to monitor and report polluting activities as well as to ensure quick action.

About 52 teams deployed under the campaign are visiting different parts of Delhi and the adjacent towns of Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Noida.

The teams are being led by the sub-divisional magistrates of the respective areas and comprise senior officials of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), representatives of the CPCB, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court-empowered Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority or EPCA had banned the entry of trucks into Delhi between November 8 and November 10 amid projections of further rise in pollution level in the national capital post Diwali.

The trucks carrying essential commodities, will, however be exempt from the ban, the EPCA said in the directive issued to the Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Delhi.With PTI inputs)

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