The air quality turned hazardous in Delhi as the citizens defied the Supreme Court-enforced two-hour limit for bursting crackers on Diwali on Sunday night.
According to government agencies, at 11 p.m., Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index, AQI, stood at 327. AQI at Mother Dairy in Patparganj area and National Malaria Institute, Dwarka was recorded at 999 and 763 respectively. The levels of PM 10 tiny particulate matter had reached as high as 515 micro-grams per cubic metre in Anand Vihar during the day.
An AQI between 301-400 is considered very poor, and 401-500 severe. Above 500 is severe-plus emergency category. Twenty-five of the 37 air quality monitoring stations in the capital recorded their AQI in very poor category or beyond.
With Delhi’s air quality plummeting to dangerous levels around Diwali every year, the Supreme Court in 2018 banned polluting firecrackers. It had ordered that only green firecrackers, which is said to cause 30 per cent less pollution, can be manufactured and sold. But the green firecrackers have failed to draw good response both from sellers and buyers, primarily due to lack of variety, limited stock and high prices.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, SAFAR, the highest impact of firecracker emissions is expected early today from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m.
Apprehending a dip in air quality, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority, EPCA, on Friday banned construction activities at night in Delhi-NCR from Saturday to Wednesday. It also directed closure of coal-based industries, barring power plants, in Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Sonepat and Bahadurgarh during the period.
A PMO-led panel has directed implementing agencies and the NCR states to intensify anti-pollution measures up to mid-November so that there is immediate impact on air quality. The Centre has also asked Haryana and Punjab to stop stubble burning completely for the next critical days