Less pollution in Delhi this Diwali but air quality still way above safe limits

On October 9, the Supreme Court had banned the sale of fireworks in Delhi-NCR to help regulate air pollution levels and assess the impact on air quality.

Written by Mallica Joshi | New Delhi | Updated: October 21, 2017 7:32 am
delhi, delhi pollution, air pollution, delhi air pollution, diwali, firecrackers ban, delhi firecrackers ban, firecrackers sale ban, Supreme court ban on firecrackers, Delhi-NCR, firecrackers, air pollution, air pollution in delhi, delhi PM, delhi news, indian express news New Delhi: Smog covers the city, a day after Diwali festival in New Delhi on Friday. (PTI Photo)

With the Supreme Court imposing a temporary ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi and the National Capital Region, air in the city was cleaner this Diwali and the day after compared to 2016 although the level of major pollutants remained far above permissible limits, according to data released by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).

According to a post-Diwali analysis by DPCC, which collected data from 16 stations across Delhi, the concentration of Particulate Matter (PM) was lesser as compared to last year (see box).

According to air quality data, the concentration of major pollutants went up at night. “Major changes were observed after 8 pm when the fireworks started. Ambient Air Quality in Delhi was already in the ‘poor’ category due to accumulated pollutants,” the Delhi government’s environment department said in a statement.

“The cumulative effect of existing pollution load and pollutants released due to use of fireworks as well as meteorological conditions… (had an) impact on ambient air quality during Diwali. However the ranges of concentration of PM 10 and PM 2.5 at 1 pm Friday has shown improvement,” it said.

Union Minister of Environment Dr Harsh Vardhan said air quality in Delhi was better than last year. He said, “The number of ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ and ‘moderate’ days has increased and ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ category has reduced significantly compared to 2016.”

Vardhan said that he had held meetings with officers from Haryana and UP on stubble-burning and that added efforts were being made to “provide farmers with an alternative to burning, so that they can create wealth from waste.”

ALSO READ: Despite Supreme Court ban, Delhi’s addiction to crackers remains

On October 9, the Supreme Court had banned the sale of fireworks in Delhi-NCR to help regulate air pollution levels and assess the impact on air quality. However, the ban was flouted by several traders, with many selling fireworks online and through middlemen. The sale is banned till November 1 and the comparative reports will be analysed by the court.

According to CPCB data, the air quality on the day after Diwali was also better this year as compared to the last. The air quality index on Friday was 403 as compared to Diwali day (October 31) last year when it was 445. Both, however, fall under the “severe” category and the air remained heavily polluted throughout the day.

At India Gate, the PM 2.5 value at 10 am was 985 micrograms per cubic metre, according to the DPCC’s real-time readings, putting the air in the “severely polluted” category. The level of pollutants was more than 16 times the permissible limits before dipping to 169 micrograms per cubic metre by 5.30 pm.

According to System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, air quality will be in the “severe” category even on Saturday when the PM 2.5 levels are expected to be 318 micrograms per cubic metre. PM 10 concentration is expected to be 476 micrograms per cubic metre.

Delhi, Diwali, Pollution, firecracker ban, diwali firecrackers, firecrackers, NCR firecrackers ban, indian express news Ring Road, near AIIMS, Delhi on Friday morning at 7:07 am.(Express Photo by Abhinav Saha)

Anumita Roychowdhury, Centre for Science and Environment, said that only a long-term plan can ensure cleaner air. “It is clear that the Delhi-NCR region requires a longer-term and systemic action than a one-off ban,” she said.

“The Supreme Court has already ordered a phase-down strategy with the help of regulation of chemicals, standards, reduced quantum of crackers, controlled bursting of crackers through community events, locational controls, etc. This must be implemented without delay for a longer term solution to the problem,” said Roychowdhury.

“A comprehensive action plan must combine short and long term strategies for vehicles, industry, waste burning and construction activities for more sustained and longer term gains,” she said.

Of the 16 stations monitored by DPCC, data from RK Puram, Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, Civil Lines and Anand Vihar was analysed last year as well. Eleven other stations, including Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Major Dhyanchand National Stadium, PGDAV College (Sriniwaspuri), DITE Okhla and Mother Dairy (Patparganj), were added this year.

According to CPCB data, while Diwali day this year was less polluted as compared to last year, the month of October has seen more pollution: the average air quality index, which was 230 in October 2016, rose to 235 this time (till October 19). The CPCB said in a statement that weather conditions this year were worse than last year, which aided the accumulation of pollutants.

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  1. ሆልይ ትርንትይ
    Oct 21, 2017 at 8:33 pm
    Crackers were invented by Hindus in ancient Hindia. Mohd: Gaznavi stole the formula, know-how and all existing stocks and sold them to the Chinese. Bhagwat Mata Ki Jai.
    1. A
      Oct 21, 2017 at 9:49 am
      I am so glad the anti-Hindu SC Hon Judges came in their pollution creating cars from their multi-acre houses which produce more carbon footprint daily to courts to ban one day of firecrackers on a Hindu festival in a Hindu country. That takes courage. Now, I do believe that since ours is a sickular country, they will ban killing goats and sheeps on Eid and putting trees in their houses on Xmas. Hope the same judges will do more and not play only the anti-Hindu agenda. n my city of Bengaluru alone - 4 lakhs Animals are Killed on Eid which includes 10000 Large animals like Cattle and Camels It generates 300 tonnes of animal waste which is just buried in pits near Kogilu on the city outskirts For 14 lakh Muslims in Bengaluru - 4 lakh Animals killed Even if one Animal weighs 10 kg then can an average person eat 3 kg meat on single day ? And mind you this includes kids and infants also So most of the meat goes waste though people might claim we give it to poor.
      1. V
        Oct 21, 2017 at 9:40 am
        Who wrote the head line of this article! Wow. As for the article itself, lets agree to disagree. The writer seems to have read "How to Lie with Statistics, by Darrell Huff " very carefully.
        1. V
          Oct 21, 2017 at 9:28 am
          It is said in statistics that you torture the numbers and they will confess to any thing. Post diwiali, Indian media seems to be doing exatly that to the pollution stats. The media is twisting and turning the post Diwali pollution figures to some how justify the absurdity of conclusion that year round pollution in Delhi will abate if Hindus stop celebrating Diwali and Holi(wait till march when someone will fill an PIL in SC against a colorful Holi). Or, Perhaps the common sense will prevail and the real measures for pollution control like banning the vehicles, closing down polluting industries etc, will be considered. Fight Pollution round the year and let the gullible Hindus enjoy a festival for just 2 hours. Is this asking for much? I think fighting the Pollution year round is a sane thing to do. And please started your anti Holi capaign early so that someone might come up with hygienic non polluting collors and help against ruining the festival instead of asking for a complete ban
          1. V
            Oct 21, 2017 at 8:59 am
            Why do u talk about pollution on Diwali day only What about other 364 days ?
            1. Q
              Quite T
              Oct 21, 2017 at 9:30 am
              Because their main end goal is to put a complete ban Hinduism. Judiciary, leftist, Christians and Muslims are all together to reach this goal. Court is not a elected body. It cannot make laws. It can only judge a case presented to them. The main cause of pollutions are the vehicles. That where one needs to look into in order to solve the problem.
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