Diwali 2020: Firecrackers Make Delhi’s Air Quality ‘Severe’; Relief likely

PRAKASH SINGH via Getty ImagesAn East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) vehicle sprinkles water to control dust as commuters drive along a road amid smoggy conditions in New Delhi on November 15, 2020. (Photo by Prakash SINGH / AFP) (Photo by PRAKASH SINGH/AFP via Getty Images)

The air quality had turned “severe” on Saturday evening with stubble burning accounting for 32 per cent of Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution, but firecracker emissions and calm winds made the situation even worse.

PM10 level stood at 543 g/m3 at 6 am, above the emergency threshold of 500 g/m3, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. PM10 levels below 100 g/m3 are considered safe in India.

According to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), the air quality is considered in the severe plus or emergency category if PM2.5 and PM10 levels persist above 300 g/m3 and 500 g/m3 for more than 48 hours.

A large number of people burst crackers across the national capital and its suburbs on Saturday night, flouting the ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal.

Delhi Police arrested 10 people and seized 638 kg of firecrackers on Saturday.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had on Monday imposed a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) from November 9 midnight to November 30 midnight, saying “celebration by crackers is for happiness and not to celebrate deaths and diseases”.

According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR, the PM2.5 concentration in Delhi on Diwali could have been the lowest in the last four years if there were no fireworks.

The city recorded an overall AQI of 414 at 4 pm on Saturday. It soared to 454 by 10 pm. On Sunday, it stood at 465 at 9 am.

The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (438), Ghaziabad (483), Greater Noida (439), Gurgaon (424) and Noida (466) also recorded their AQI in the severe category.

Light rain is likely on Sunday under the influence of a western disturbance. The air quality is likely to improve due to an expected increase in the wind speed, Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the IMD’s regional forecasting centre, said.

There will be a significant improvement in air quality by Monday, Soni said.

The Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi also said the situation is likely to improve significantly on Sunday.

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