Delhi has failed spectacularly in preventing the air quality from falling into the “severe-plus emergency” category the morning after Diwali. The national capital recorded its worst air quality of the year today with the overall index rising to 574, which falls in the “severe-plus emergency” category, according to data by the centre-run SAFAR.
The overall air quality index or AQI was 10 times the safe limit — AQI above 500 falls in the “severe-plus emergency” category, according to the government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research.
Anand Vihar was among the areas in Delhi where the AQI was recorded at an alarming 999 this morning. The AQI around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium touched 999 (the maximum level for the monitors) while the US embassy in Chanakyapuri scored 459, all under the “hazardous” category.
Despite several restrictions and the two-hour window to burst only “green crackers” ordered by the Supreme Court, the national capital didn’t appear to adhere to the 10 pm deadline and continued to light polluting firecrackers till late.
The air quality began to deteriorate from 7 pm on Diwali evening. The AQI rose from 281 at 7 pm to 291 an hour later and by 10 pm, it was 296, said the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations indicated “poor” and “very poor” air quality as the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 8 pm.
The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of crackers from 8 pm to 10 pm on Diwali. It had allowed manufacture and sale of only “green crackers”, which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.
The top court had directed the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and in case of violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the area would be held responsible.
However, violations were reported from across Delhi, including areas like Anand Vihar, ITO, Jahangirpuri Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP Extension and Dwarka.
The police have promised appropriate action.
The situation was similar, if not worse, in the neighbouring areas of Delhi such as Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad, where crackers were burst as usual, raising question marks on the efficacy of the administration in enforcing the top court’s ban.
A “very poor” AQI translates into spike in respiratory illnesses and if the air quality dips further, the AQI turns “severe”, which troubles healthy individuals and seriously affects those with health issues.
The centre along with the Delhi government has launched a 10-day “Clean Air Campaign” from November 1 to 10 to monitor polluting activities and to ensure quick action.