Pollution level on Diwali night less than last yr: Govt

The Delhi government claimed that the pollution level on Diwali night was less than last year. However, several monitoring agencies reported that the air quality in Delhi plunged “severely” after the Diwali celebration with pollutants at a whopping 20 times more in certain areas due to incessant fireworks.

The Delhi government took steps to contain the air pollution levels in the national Capital during Diwali through a multi-pronged strategy by launching ‘Say No To Firecrackers’ campaign with the support and assistance of various stakeholders such as Eco-Clubs of schools and colleges and RWAs.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) also constituted teams to check the levels of noise pollution and also to check shops randomly with respect to compliance of sound emitting firecrackers as per norms.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), however, compared this year’s pollution level with the past year and said that pollution level this Diwali was lower.

The data from DPCC, a Delhi government agency, revealed that the maximum average values of SO2, NO2 and PM 2.5 were lower this Diwali compared to their corresponding values on the same occasion in 2014.

The Ambient Air Quality monitoring was conducted at six Locations — RK Puram, Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, Civil Lines, Anand Vihar and the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

“This year on Diwali, the average concentration of NO2 varied from 37.0 ug/m3 to 79.0 ug/m3 whereas last year, the average concentration of NO2 varied from 39 ug/m3 to 194 ug/m3,” a Delhi government statement said.

“Similarly, this year the average concentration of SO2 varied from 26 ug/m3 to 64 ug/m3, whereas last year the average concentration of SO2 varied from 8 ug/m3 to 87 ug/m3. The minimum average value was observed at IGI Airport and maximum average value was observed at Anand Vihar,” it added.

As per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), an agency under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, the air quality in the Capital has turned “severe”, a category used to describe the highest level of pollution.

Noise pollution was also on the higher side in most of the areas in the city. Though the Delhi government claimed the pollution level on Diwali night was less than last year, experts said it was too early to draw a conclusion.

Areas scattered across the megapolis saw alarming levels of pollution in the night with Anand Vihar, RK Puram, Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh breaching all safety standards not in terms of air but also noise.

At Anand Vihar, the level of PM 10 was 2,000 microgram per cubic metre around midnight, which is 20 times more than the safe level of 100. RK Puram recorded the same at 1,333 at around 1 am.

PM 2.5, finer and more harmful to those susceptible to ailments of the respiratory tract, was at 734 at RK Puram and 619 at Punjabi Bagh around the same time as opposed to the permissible limit of 60.

In the morning after Diwali, the Delhi University area was polluted with PM 2.5 and PM 10 being recorded at 446 and 439. SAFAR’s IGI Airport station recorded PM 2.5 at 478 and PM 10 at 439.

As per the National Air Quality Index, air in the ‘severe’ category affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases. Residential areas such as Punjabi Bagh, RK Puram also had pollution in the ‘severe’ category.

As per SAFAR, the pollution levels have been consistently on the higher side this year due to several factors including cooler temperature and paddy burning in neighboring states.

The meteorological department had cautioned that pollution level during Diwali night would be “severe” due to fireworks and advised people with heart and lung diseases to stay indoors.
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