Diwali fireworks push air pollution to ‘severe’ level in India’s capital

Delhi-NCR air turns hazardous as SCs firecracker order goes up in flames

Unfettered fireworks cast a pall over Delhi

It is likely to remain in the "severe" category on Friday and Saturday as the smoke emitted by firecrackers has slowed down the process of pollutant dispersion, a report by government-run agency SAFAR said Thursday.

Besides fire-related injuries, the national capital Thursday saw cases of allergy and respiratory complications.

On Wednesday night Delhites largely defied a court order and set off an vast barrage of smoke-spewing firecrackers to celebrate the major Hindu festival of Diwali, sending pollution levels soaring.

Krunesh Garg, member-secretary of PPCB said that as per the data of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations established at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Khanna, Mandi Gobindgarh and Patiala, the average air quality index of Punjab was 234 and it was 328 in the year 2017, indicating a very encouraging decrease of 29 per cent in AQI hence better quality of air this year than previous years.

People wear pollution masks while bursting firecrackers on Wednesday. Early morning at 1 am, smoke layer became thick and started to trap pollutants near the surface rapidly.

The overall AQI of the city was 11 times the permissable limit.

On Friday, levels of particulates 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, the most harmful to human health, peaked at 845, according to the U.S. embassy website that monitors air quality independently. The PM10 level was six times the permissable limit at 618 gm-3, according to SAFAR. AQI above 500 falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category.

The entry of heavy and medium goods vehicles into the national capital has already been banned for three days beginning 11 pm on Thursday night as a measure to check air pollution in Delhi.

Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the use of "green" firecrackers for Diwali, but only for two hours in the evening. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to the advisory issued by Safar.

The court had said police should ensure that there was no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the police station of the area would be held personally liable and this would amount to committing contempt of the court.

Violations of the Supreme Court order were reported from Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka, Noida Sector 78 among other places.

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