Same Old Story: Smog, Haze Back in Delhi After Diwali

Erika Holt
November 10, 2018

The air quality in Delhi has reached "severe plus emergency" category following Diwali celebrations. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to the advisory issued by Safar.

A high level of tiny particulate matter can lodge deep into the lungs and cause major health problems.

On Friday, levels of particulates 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, the most harmful to human health, peaked at 845, according to the United States embassy website that monitors air quality independently. This year the average Air Quality Index (AQI) of Punjab was recorded at 234 against 328 on Diwali night in 2017. The Central Pollution Control Board's (CPCB) air quality forecast suggests that air quality will continue at "very poor" levels for the next three days across NCR. The quality of air in Pitampura, Airport, Terminal 3 and Delhi University stood at 679, 481 and 801 respectively.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 PM to 10 PM on Diwali and allowed sale of only "green crackers" which have low emission of light, sound and harmful chemicals.

With levels of air pollution classed as "hazardous", the restriction on the almost 40,000 medium and heavy lorries that enter Delhi every day was imposed late Thursday.

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The apparent lack of concern about the toxic air - whether through ignorance or apathy - gives politicians the cover they need for failing to address the problem, say environmental activists and others. India's official permissible PM2.5 limit is 60 µgm-3 while PM10 level is 100 µgm-3. The government has said that the authorities are taking measures to curb the air pollution levels including banning trucks from entering the national capital till December.

Several areas in Delhi including Anand Vihar, ITO and Jahangirpuri have recorded the highest level of pollutants in the air and the Delhi government is planning to mull the odd-even rule back in the national capital.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of crackers from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali.

The court said the police should ensure there was no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the Station House Officer (SHO) of the police station of the area would be held personally liable and this would amount to committing contempt of court.

But despite the apex court order, there were reports of its violation from many areas long after 10 pm.

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