There was no respite to the pollution woes for Delhiites as the pollution level nosedived to 'severe plus emergency' category on Thursday. A thick haze engulfed Delhi on Thursday as it recorded its worst air quality of the year on the morning after Diwali. Delhi's pollution level post-Diwali nearly doubled in comparison to last year as people burst firecrackers before and after the Supreme Court stipulated time frame of 8 pm to 10 pm. The overall air quality index (AQI) Thursday was recorded in the "severe plus emergency" category at 642, according to Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) data.
As Delhi's government's transport department banned the entry of heavy vehicles in the city from 11 pm on Thursday to 11 pm on November 11, the Supreme Court-appointed environment pollution control authority said it was monitoring the situation and will take emergency measures if the pollution level increases. The emergency measures include odd-even rationing of private vehicles.
A report by research group Urban Emissions said close to 50 lakh kilogrammes of firecrackers were burnt in Delhi this year, the same amount of firecrackers burnt last year which equated to 1,50,000 kg of mass of PM2.5 (particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres).
The government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) warned that Delhi's air quality is likely to remain "severe" over the next two days as smoke from firecrackers has slowed down the process of pollutant dispersion.
Many residents and green activists voiced helplessness and expressed anguish at the violation of the top court's 8-10 PM time limit for bursting firecrackers. Doctors advised people to stay indoors, use N-99 masks, that can filter up to 99 per cent of the particulate matter from the air.
Many others said the ceaseless bursting of firecrackers on Diwali night in violation of the court directive has highlighted the difficulties faced by government agencies in enforcing orders when laws are routinely flouted and accentuated the "large gap" between the law and the capacity to enforce it.
Besides fire-related injuries, the national capital Thursday saw cases of allergy and respiratory complications. More than 250 cases of burn injuries were reported in the national capital this Diwali.
The Delhi police said it has registered over 550 cases and arrested more than 300 people for violating the court's order. It said it has seized over 7,900 kg of illegal firecrackers, including 2,500 kgs on the day of Diwali, since Supreme Court ordered a ban on the sale of old crackers on October 23.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court appointed Environment Protection Authority Thursday said it was closely monitoring the situation and if the pollution shows an increasing trend then emergency measures will be imposed in the national capital.
The emergency measures would be implemented as prescribed under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
Under the GRAP, stringent actions are implemented based on the air quality of the city.
The measures like banning entry of heavy vehicles and odd-even scheme are implemented if the air quality slips to severe plus emergency category.
"We have already banned the entry of heavy vehicles in the city and are closely monitoring the situation and if the pollution shows an increasing trend then we will impose emergency measures," an EPCA member said.
Not only Delhi, but many states across India including Rajasthan, Maharashtram Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu violated the Supreme Court's firecracker ban on Diwali.
AIR QUALITY DETERIORATES TO VERY UNHEALTHY LEVELS IN WEST BENGAL POST DIWALI
Bursting of crackers and fireworks for two days on the occasion of Kali puja and Diwali till Wednesday, defying a Supreme Court order, caused the air quality in several parts of the city to dip to "very unhealthy" levels, environmentalists said on Thursday.
At least 556 people were arrested in connection with bursting of banned fire crackers and disorderly conduct in the city over the past two days.
Till 11 pm Wednesday, police received a total of 50 complaints regarding bursting of fire crackers, an official of Kolkata Police said.
The complaints were mainly from the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass, Kasba, Patuli, Thakurpukur in the south and Dum Dum in the northern part of the city.
AQI 'POOR' POST DIWALI IN RAJASTHAN
Flouting the Supreme court's order, people continued to burst firecrackers past the permissible time limit, resulting in poor air quality in major cities of Rajasthan on Thursday.
As per the Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board data, the PM 2.5 and PM 10 parameters at one centre in Jaipur were 330 and 205 respectively. The condition was no better at the other two centres of the city, with Sethi colony centre witnessing PM 2.5 level at 227 and PM 10 at 194m, while the Shastri Nagar centre recordeing a PM 2.5 of 197 and PM 10 of 145.
In Jodhpur, the PM 2.5 and PM 10 were recorded 453 and 430 respectively, followed by 364 and 263 in Kota, 359 and 250 in Ajmer, 357 and 331 in industrial town Bhiwadi, 334 and 278 in Udaipur.
MUMBAI RECORDS HIGH NOISE LEVEL ON DIWALI, 7 HELD FOR FLOUTING SC ORDER
Mumbai witnessed a noisy Diwali this year despite the Supreme Court putting restrictions on bursting of firecrackers.
Some residential areas in the city recorded "high" noise levels Wednesday night against the permissible limits, said environment activist Sumaira Abdulali, the founder of NGO Awaaz Foundation, which has been campaigning for bringing down noise levels.
Seven people were detained for allegedly flouting the apex court's guidelines and bursting crackers beyond the permissible time limit, police said Thursday.
In gross violation of the apex court's order, people in some parts of the megacity burst firecrackers even after the 10 pm deadline.
37 HELD IN CHANDIGARH, SC BAN ON FIRECRACKERS FLOUTED IN SHIMLA
Thirty-seven people were arrested in Chandigarh as revellers in cities across Punjab and Haryana flouted the Supreme Court order which had limited the bursting of crackers to between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali, police said on Thursday.
In Ludhiana, one of the most polluted city in the country, 14 cases were registered for flouting the apex court's time frame on bursting crackers.
In Chandigarh, altogether 38 cases were registered for violation of the apex court order.
The cases were registered under section 188 of the Indian Penal Code for disobedience of an order promulgated by public authorities.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) at several places in the two states was recorded as 'poor' and 'very poor' on Thursday morning after Diwali night.
The pollution-regulating authorities, however, said the air quality after this Diwali remained better than what it was last year.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court ban on bursting firecrackers was flouted in Shimla too. However no FIR has been registered so far.
There are reports from several areas of Shimla, including Jakhu, Chhota Shimla, Khalini, Lower Bazar, Summer Hill and Lakkar Bazar localities, of people bursting firecrackers before 8 pm and after 10 pm, residents said.
TAMIL NADU TOPS IN CASES OVER BURSTING OF CRACKERS, POLLUTION LEVELS
Tamil Nadu topped the southern states in the number cases filed for violation of Supreme Court's time-limit for bursting of crackers on deepavali day with 2,190 FIRs while none were booked in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, police said.
In Telangana, police booked over 75 cases in Hyderabad while in the union territory of Puducherry around 30 cases were registered for violating the two-hour window set by the apex court for bursting crackers.
Noise pollution was low in Andhra Pradesh while in Tamil Nadu the air pollution levels dipped across the state on deepavali day, reports from the states said.
Tamil Nadu and Puducherry celebrated deepavali on Tuesday while the other southern states on Wednesday. The festival is not celebrated on a largescale in Kerala compared to other states and crackers are burst mainly during "Vishu", the Malayalam new year.
Among the state's 32 districts in Tamil Nadu, Chennai topped the list in violations of the time limit for bursting crackers with 359 cases followed by Coimbatore 184, Villupuram 160 and Virudhunagar 134. Theni recorded the lowest of five cases, police said.