CRACKER SALE BAN Year after year, the Capital’s air quality spirals out of control due to the indiscriminate use of firecrackers after Diwali
› The ban would ensure that the levels of air pollutants do not reach as high a limit as they did last year around Diwali…
AJAY MATHUR, TERI dir general
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court’s order banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR till November 1 might just be the respite the capital needs.
Going by the current conditions, where the air quality has touched ‘very poor’ in many parts of the city, the situation may spiral out of control if firecrackers are set off indiscriminately during Diwali.
“The ban would ensure levels of air pollutants do not reach as high a limit as they did last year around Diwali… The regulation is a step in the right direction,” Ajay Mathur, director general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) said.
Last year, Delhi witnessed its worst smog in 17 years, right after Diwali.
Although experts welcomed the SC order, they also said there was a need for a sustained longterm solution for tackling the menace. “The air of Delhi is anyway saturated with pollutants at this time of the season as paddy stubble burning starts and temperature drops,” said Bhure Lal, chairman of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).
According to a report on the composition of firecrackers prepared by the Chest Research Foundation, Pune, they produce extremely high levels of PM 2.5 over a short period of time. The 24-hour prescribed average of PM 2.5, which are ultrafine pollutants, is 60ug/m3.
An IIT Kanpur study has also pointed out that around Diwali, particulate matter levels nearly double from the average level and organic content of PM increases more than twice.
According to Dipankar Saha, head of Central Pollution Control Board’s air lab, this ban can clean up the air if properly enforced. “This order can bring radical changes. The weather is also good this time. If there is no drastic change in meteorological conditions, Diwali will be a good one this year,” Saha said.
Through a report titled ‘Deepawali Festival Monitoring Report 2016,’ the CPCB revealed how most of Delhi had noise and air pollution problems even on ‘normal days’ but it was seen to spike on Diwali, especially last year.
In 2016, the PM10 level ranged between 203μg/m3 and 318μg/m3 in different parts of the Capital before the festival. The acceptable standards are 100μg/m3. This spiked to over 1,000μg/m3 in areas such as Pitampura and Parivesh Bhavan in east Arjun Nagar on Diwali. Data shows the situation has been getting worse over the years.
Environmental activists, however, stressed on citizens’ involvement to make this order a success and make the city less polluted. “Ban on sale of fireworks was highly required for Delhi but ban on burning them is more important… It’s up to us to make an educated decision and celebrate Diwali without hurting others,” Verhaen Khanna, the founder of New Delhi Nature Society, said.
Residents felt the ban should have been applicable not just in Delhi-NCR but not across India. Other felt, such a ban should be extended to the entire year and occasions like New Year’s Eve
“Why only for Diwali? Why not the entire year? How will pollution levels be controlled if firecrackers are allowed to be sold for other occasions?” said Roshan Tiwari (25), an engineering grad.