Delhi has failed spectacularly in preventing the air quality from falling into the “dangerous” category on Diwali. The morning after, Anand Vihar was among the areas in Delhi where the air quality index (AQI) was recorded at an alarming 999 this morning. The AQI around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium touched 999 (the maximum level for the monitors) while the US Embassy in Chanakyapuri scored 459, all under the “hazardous” category.
Despite several restrictions and the two-hour window to burst only “green crackers” ordered by the Supreme Court, the national capital didn’t appear to adhere to the 10 pm deadline and continued to light polluting firecrackers till late.
The overall AQI was recorded at 302 at 11 pm, which fell in the very poor category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The air quality began to deteriorate from 7 pm on Diwali evening. The AQI rose from 281 at 7 pm to 291 an hour later and by 10 pm, it was 296, said the CPCB.
The AQI level from 0 to 50 is considered good, 51 to 100 is satisfactory, 101 to 200 is moderate, 201 to 300 is poor, 301 to 400 is very poor, and 401 and above is severe.
The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations indicated “poor” and “very poor” air quality as the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 8 pm.
The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of crackers from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali. It had allowed manufacture and sale of only “green crackers”, which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.
The top court had directed the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and in case of violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the area would be held responsible.
However, violations were reported from across Delhi, including areas like Anand Vihar, ITO, Jahangirpuri Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP Extension and Dwarka.
The police have promised appropriate action.
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 top court’s ban.
A “very poor” AQI translates into spike in respiratory illnesses and if the air quality dips further, the AQI turns “severe”, which troubles healthy individuals and seriously affects those with health issues.
The centre along with the Delhi government has launched a 10-day “Clean Air Campaign” from November 1 to 10 to monitor polluting activities and to ensure quick action.