Thursday, 23 May, 2019

Delhi bans entry of trucks to combat post-Diwali smog

Heavy pollution during early morning hours after Diwali night in New Delhi on Thursday Heavy pollution during early morning hours after Diwali night in New Delhi on Thursday
Deanna Wagner | 10 November, 2018, 00:35

The emergency measures include odd-even rationing of private vehicles.

On 6 November, a day before Diwali, Delhi's air quality was 418 which is "hazardous" at 11am.

Delhi's air quality is expected to remain in this category over the next two days as the smoke emitted by fire crackers has slowed down the process of pollutant dispersion, the agency said.

All week, traders had been asking for clarification over what green firecrackers were. Doctors advised people to stay indoors, use N-99 masks, that can filter up to 99 per cent of the particulate matter from the air.

The Supreme Court has allowed people to burst firecrackers from 8pm to 10pm only on Diwali and other festivals.

On Wednesday night Delhites largely defied a court order and set off an huge barrage of smoke-spewing firecrackers to celebrate the major Hindu festival of Diwali, sending pollution levels soaring. The number of calls, they said, were far more than that recorded on Diwali day during the previous years.

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The overall AQI on Thursday was recorded in the "severe plus emergency" category at 642 in Delhi, according to Centre-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) data. Meteorology, as well as stubble burning, makes a huge difference in Delhi's air quality in late October and November. Early morning at 1 am, smoke layer became thick and started to trap pollutants near the surface rapidly. India's official permissible PM2.5 limit is 60 µgm-3 while PM10 level is 100 µgm-3. According to the PPCB last year Ludhiana's AQI was 379 this year, Mandi Gobindgarh's AQI was recorded at 318, Amritsar's AQI was recorded at 287 but this year all these cities have shown much less pollution in its air.

All but three monitoring stations in Delhi reported "severe" air quality on Thursday midnight with AQIs over 401.

Two federal government pollution indices showed air at "very poor" and "severe" levels, indicating that prolonged exposure could lead to respiratory illnesses. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to a SAFAR advisory.

The court had asked police to ensure that banned fireworks were not sold and said in case of any violation the commanding officer of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of the court.

But despite the Supreme Court's order, certain places recorded violations where firecrackers were burnt before and after the set time frame.