Delhi:A supreme court ban on the sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region has a quiet and promising evening but it gave way to thick haze and noise as Delhi celebrated Diwali, dashing the hopes of cracker-free festivities.
The cracker-bursting was relatively subdued as compared to previous years. However, the people in the adjoining townships of Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad paid little heed to the apex court’s writ and environmentalists’ concerns.
The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city glowed red, indicating a ‘very poor’ air quality as the volume of ultrafine particulates PM 2.5 and PM 10 sharply rose from around 7 pm.
Real-time pollution data appeared alarming. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee’s (DPCC) R K Puram monitoring station recorded PM 2.5 and PM 10 at 878 and 1,179 micrograms per cubic metre at around 11 pm.
The pollutants had violated the corresponding 24-hour safe limits of 60 and 100 respectively by up to 10 times.
According to the SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research), the 24-hour rolling average of PM2.5 and PM10 were 154 and 256 micrograms per cubic metre respectively at around 11 pm.
The situation was similar, if not worse, in the neighbouring regions 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 apex court’s ban.
However, the SAFAR has also predicted a relatively cleaner post-Diwali air due to favourable meteorological conditions, which are helping prevent the smoke-filled air from the agricultural belt of Haryana and Haryana from entering the national capital.
The Supreme Court-appointed Environment Pollution Prevention and Control Authority (EPCA) is empowered to enforce the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) to combat air pollution in Delhi-NCR.