Delhi and the surrounding areas remained under the cover of toxic smog on late Thursday and early Friday as people continued to burst firecrackers despite a ban on it by the state government.
Continuing its upward trend, the city’s air quality index, which stood at 382 at 4 pm, entered the severe zone at around 8 pm on Thursday as low temperature and wind speed allowed the accumulation of pollutants. The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (424), Ghaziabad (442), Gurgaon (423) and Noida (431) also recorded “severe” air quality with cracker bursting peaking after 9 pm, according to news agency PTI.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) expects the air quality to stay in the “severe” category today as well. According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board, almost all monitoring stations across the national capital recorded AQI levels above 450.
Delhi government has banned the bursting and sale of all firecrackers, including green crackers. pic.twitter.com/Y9G473JYVr
— ANI (@ANI) November 4, 2021
AQI in the 301 to 400 range is ‘very poor,’ while AQI between 401 and 500 is “severe”.
On October 27, the Delhi government had launched the ‘Patakhe Nahi Diye Jalao’ campaign to create awareness against the bursting of crackers. Under the campaign, action can be taken under relevant IPC provisions and the Explosives Act against anyone found burning crackers. According to the government, more than 13,000 kg of illegal firecrackers have been seized and 33 people arrested so far under the anti-cracker campaign.
Delhi has already been reeling under the poor air quality owing to the stubble burning season. The air quality in Delhi plunged on Thursday morning with the AQI remaining in the “very poor” category at a figure significantly above that on Wednesday. The season’s first foggy morning was also recorded on Thursday.
A train runs amid low visibility owing to a thick layer of smog post Diwali celebrations, in Mathura on Friday. (Photo: PTI)
The SAFAR system had predicted that the air quality would have fallen further to the edge of the “very poor” to “severe” category by Thursday night even if there are no firecracker emissions. Bursting of firecrackers will result in further deterioration. The AQI could possibly cross the 500-mark owing to firecracker emissions, the forecast had indicated.
The contribution of stubble burning to pollutants in Delhi is around 25%, according to the SAFAR forecast. This, combined with very calm conditions, have resulted in a dip in the air quality. The contribution of crop residue burning is set to increase to around 35% on November 5 and further to 40% on November 6 and 7.
People celebrate Diwali at Sewri, Mumbai, on Thursday. (Express Photo: Amit Chakravarty)
As against the predicted heavy pollution on Diwali night, Mumbai witnessed a moderate AQI of around 149-165. Since earlier this week, the city’s AQI was in the poor category, i.e., between 201 and 300.
According to SAFAR, the concentration of PM 2.5 (the suspended pollutants 2.5 microns or smaller in size) was 75 micrograms/cubic metre, which is 1.2 times the daily safety limit. As per the National Ambient Air Quality Standards, the daily safe limit of 60ug/m3 for PM 2.5 should be maintained. PM 2.5 is one of the city’s most prominent pollutants.
It has forecast that the pollution levels will rise in the city and will reach the “very poor” category on Friday.