As police across major cities, including Delhi, struggled to enforce the Supreme Court’s guidelines on bursting of firecrackers on Wednesday, pollution indices recorded grim figures post-Diwali. In Delhi, police registered 562 cases for “disobedience of order” (Section 188 of IPC) and arrested 310 people on Diwali night.
Last month, the Supreme Court had allowed the use of “green” firecrackers for Diwali, but only for two hours, between 8 pm and 10 pm. However, there were no “green” firecrackers, which have reduced sound, emission and chemicals, available for sale in the market and illegal firecrackers went off, pushing the air quality to ‘very poor’ and ‘severe levels’.
Though the court had told police that station house officers would be held liable if banned firecrackers were sold or the two-hour time slot violated, such firecrackers were sold on the sly in many places in Delhi. “Those arrested were later granted bail. Appropriate legal action was also taken against 24 juveniles under the provisions of the Juvenile Justice Act for not abiding by the Supreme Court’s direction,” Delhi Police spokesperson Madhur Verma said.
Delhi’s air quality remained in the severely polluted category till late afternoon on Thursday, and eased a little as temperature increased and wind helped disperse pollutants. Some places in Delhi recorded particulate matter level as high as 1,800 micrograms per cubic metre against the acceptable limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre.
Scientists at the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research said the air quality would improve in the coming two days, but would still be in the ‘very poor’ range. The Delhi government on Thursday banned trucks from entering the city till Sunday. The ban will not apply to trucks carrying essential items such as grain, milk, vegetables etc.
Delhi’s neighbouring suburban district of Gautam Buddh Nagar registered 58 cases under Section 188 of the IPC. In Chandigarh, 34 people were arrested for bursting firecrackers beyond the permissible limits and eight persons were arrested for illegal sale. “We started arresting people for bursting firecrackers beyond the permissible limit since November 5,” said a police spokesperson. In Rohtak, four shopkeepers were arrested for selling firecrackers in violation of the court’s orders.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) at several places in the two states of Punjab and Haryana was recorded as ‘poor’ and ‘very poor’ on Thursday morning, PTI reported. The pollution-regulating authorities, however, said the air quality remained better than what it was post-Diwali last year.
In Assam, over 150 people were arrested for violating the court’s guidelines on firecrackers, said a senior police officer, while 306 people were arrested for the offence in Kolkata.
— With ENS inputs from Chandigarh, Guwahati, Kolkata