Defiant Delhiites refuse to stay away from crackers
NEW DELHI: Despite the Supreme Court ordered ban on firecrackers, the Capital saw crackers being burst at many places. However, the number of crackers burst this year was significantly lower than last year.
Reports for burning of firecrackers came from various parts of Delhi, with many people asserting that most of those crackers were from the previous year's stock. Air quality in the Capital, which was 'very poor' before Diwali itself, became 'severe' after the festival.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) and the Supreme Court appointed body Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) have predicted that air quality will stay 'severe' in the upcoming days.
Experts noted that in 2016, Delhi saw its worst post-Diwali, but there was evidence to indicate that firecrackers alone could not be attributed to its persistence. Diwali could have only caused an episodic spike.
"There are other more significant sources that are collectively deteriorating air quality, especially in North India. If the Environment ministry is committed to protecting and safeguarding public health from air pollution, we need stronger regulatory action and better-designed awareness campaigns to enforce existing plans," said Sunil Dahiya, an environmentalist with Greenpeace India.
Meanwhile, the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) predicted that air quality would continue to be 'severe' in the upcoming days.
EPCA chairman Bhure Lal told Millennium Post, "Enforcement of pollution control in thermal power and other industries would be initiated on an emergency basis to combat the situation."
An analysis by Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) showed that despite the firecracker ban, air pollution levels breached the emergency standards on Diwali night. However, it is also clear that without the ban on sale of firecrackers, the levels would have been far worse.
Calm wind and more moisture in the air on Friday morning worsened the pollution build-up.
"It is clear that the Delhi-NCR requires a longer term and systemic action than a one-off ban," said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE.
She added that the SC has already ordered a phase-down strategy with the help of regulation of chemicals, standards, a 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," Roychowdhury stated.
Meanwhile, the Delhi government asserted that monitoring of air quality will continue and teams of officials will also monitor cases of stubble burning in neighbouring states.