The morning after Diwali in Delhi was all smog with residents left with no option but to breath the poisonous air with pollution levels in many areas reaching levels 40 times over the safe limits. Delhi easily beat Beijing’s worst air pollution events on the night of Diwali and it seemed that the slew of awareness measures taken by the government and pledges taken by the public failed to do any good.
Many areas in the city witnessed zero visibility including the railway stations, highways and airports. Normal life stalled in the morning as it became dangerous to navigate on roads due to the alarming drop in visibility.
Delhi doesn’t boast of the cleanest air. The Delhi High Court even went to the extreme calling the national capital a gas chamber last week. However, the morning after Diwali, it was anything less than one. The particulate matter — PM 2.5 and PM 10 — pollutants reached levels at least 15 times above the safe limits throughout the city. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee reported that air quality in places like RK Puram was 42 times worse than what can be called safe. Seven out of the ten most polluted places in the country were reported in the Capital after Diwali which is an alarming metric. PM pollutants enter the respiratory system to cause medical issues and can even prove fatal in cases of prolonged exposure to dangerous levels.
Burning loads of crackers on Diwali is a habit that the government cannot take away from Indians. And in the Capital, there is almost a competition to outdo each other and no amount of sensitisation or awareness campaigns have proved effective till date.
The massive amount of air and sound pollution caused by burning of crackers leave millions choked every year. The double-speaking population seems indifferent to the troubles of elders, children and animals and many are left with no option but to stay locked up inside their house on a festival.
Not many concur with this argument and would contend that they burn crackers once a year unlike people who own cars and pollute the environment on a daily basis. These kinds of arguments have always given a satisfactions to us and rid us of any chances of guilt of causing harm to anyone–unleashing massive amounts of poisonous gases is apparently justified if done once or twice a year.
Environmental conditions like low wind speeds, cooler temperature and moist air contribute to extending the suspension of such pollutants near the ground. But such conditions are not the cause of the problem. A section of the residents contribute to creating an unhealthy environment for the entire city with such activities and that is a reality that we face every Diwali.