New Delhi: A thick haze engulfed Delhi after Wednesday night with the air quality deteriorating to the “very poor” category, as Delhiites continued to burst firecrackers long after the deadline set by the Supreme Court, the authorities said.
On Thursday morning, Anand Vihar was among the areas in the national capital where the air quality index (AQI) was recorded at an alarming 999. The AQI around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium touched 999 (the maximum level for the monitors) while the US Embassy in Chanakyapuri scored 459, all under the “hazardous” category.
The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 302 at 11 pm, which fell in the very poor category, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The air quality was 281 at 7 pm, but started deteriorating rapidly. It rose to 291 at 8 pm and further deteriorated to 294 at 9 pm and 296 at 10 pm, according to the CPCB.
The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had allowed manufacture and sale of only “green crackers”, which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.
The apex court had asked Delhi police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and said in case of any violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of the court.
But despite the top court order, reports of its violation from many areas long after 10 pm came in. Several areas showed a spike in the air pollution.
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.
The police admitted that there were violations, adding that they would take serious legal action against those caught.
The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city indicated “poor” and “very poor” air quality as the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 8 pm. According to the CPCB data, the 24-hour rolling average of PM2.5 and PM10 were 164 and 294 micrograms per cubic metre respectively.
The situation was similar, if not worse, in the neighbouring areas 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 top court’s ban.
A “very poor” AQI essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air. If the air quality dips further, the AQI will turn “severe”, which may trouble even those with sound health conditions and seriously affect those with ailments.
The Centre, in collaboration with the Delhi government, had launched a 10-day “Clean Air Campaign” from November 1 to 10 to monitor and report polluting activities as well as to ensure quick action. About 52 teams deployed under the campaign are visiting different parts of Delhi and the adjacent towns of Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Noida.
(With inputs from Agencies)