Smog Envelopes Delhi As Air Quality Plummets To ‘Hazardous’ Levels A Day After Diwali

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By: Pramod Kumar Singh
Updated: 05 November, 2021 5:48 pm IST

NEW DELHI: Delhi and its adjoining areas were engulfed by a thick layer of acrid smog on Friday morning following large scale bursting of crackers by the people to celebrate Deepawali. It appeared that people were venting their emotions amid calls of cracker ban by the law enforcing authorities and the court. The thick layer of smoke that people saw on Delhi skies was also caused by the fast increase in toxic fumes from stubble burning by farmers in Punjab and Haryana. Also Read: Day After Diwali At LoC, Modi Reaches Kedarnath With A Mission To Rebuild Shankaracharya Memorial

However, the rapid deterioration in the air was caused more by the burning of the paddy husk by the farmers than fire crackers, before Deepwali, if the data available with government owned monitoring sites are concerned. Before Diwali, Delhi’s air quality has deteriorated to ‘hazardous’ category; PM 10 breached 700 mark in the national capital. The Air Quality Index (AQI) around Mandir Marg in New Delhi district recorded PM 10 levels at 707 and PM 2.5 at 663, while PM 10 levels were 681 and 676 around Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, respectively.

According to government air quality forecast agency System of Air Quality And Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR}, Stubble burning accounted for 36 per cent of Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution on Friday, the highest of the current season so far,

“The overall air quality of Delhi plunged to the upper end of the ‘severe’ category with additional firework emissions, The share of stubble emissions has peaked today at 36 per cent,” said Gufran Beig, the founder-project director of SAFAR. The concentration of stubble burning in Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution was 32 per cent on Diwali last year as compared to 19 per cent in 2019. SAFAR is collating data of the pollution caused by bursting of fire crackers on Diwali night in the city, an official said. Last year, the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution had peaked at 42 per cent on November 5. In 2019, crop residue burning accounted for 44 per cent of Delhi’s PM 2.5 pollution on November 1, the official added.

“Local winds have picked up, and fast dispersion (of pollutants) is expected now. Without any more firecracker emissions, the Air Quality Index (AQI) will improve to the ‘very poor’ category by tonight although the stubble contribution is expected to remain almost the same (on Saturday),” Beig added.

It may be noted that Delhi’s air quality index had entered into the ‘severe’ zone Thursday night and continued its upward trend to reach 462 at 12 noon on Friday.

The neighbouring cities of Faridabad (460), Greater Noida (423), Ghaziabad  (450), Gurgaon (478) and Noida (466) recorded severe air quality at 12 noon.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’

Incidentally, the Delhi government had announced a complete ban on crackers till January 1, 2022 and ran an agressive campaign against the sale and use of crackers. “People were in different mood and wanted to express themselves as they could not celebrate Deepwali in 2020 owing to the surge of Covid-19 cases”, said a Delhi Police official pleading anonymity. Police patrolling was intensified across the city and people were being sensitized about the hazards of crackers by the Delhi Government but they defied the ban. Delhi Environment minister Gopal Rai blamed the main opposition BJP and its leaders for instigating people to burst crackers which caused massive spike of pollutants in city’s atmosphere. Also Read & Watch: Like In Past, Siachen To Jaisalmer, PM Spends 8th Diwali With Soldiers. This Time In Nowshera

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