Firecrackers, farm fires make Delhi’s air quality ‘severe’

NEW DELHI, Nov 15:
Delhi-NCR woke up to the pungent smell of smoke from firecrackers on a hazy Sunday morning as pollution levels in the region crossed the “emergency” threshold.
The air quality had turned “severe” on Saturday evening with stubble burning accounting for 32 per cent of Delhi’s PM2.5 pollution, but firecracker emissions and calm winds made the situation even worse.
The levels of PM2.5 – which is about three per cent the diameter of a human hair and can lead to premature deaths from heart and lung diseases – were 396 microgram per cubic metre (µg/m3) in Delhi-NCR at 6 am, above the emergency threshold of 300 µg/m3. The safe limit is 60 µg/m3.
PM10 level stood at 543 µg/m3 at 6 am, above the emergency threshold of 500 µg/m3, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) data. PM10 levels below 100 µg/m3 are considered safe in India.
According to the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), the air quality is considered in the “severe plus” or “emergency” category if PM2.5 and PM10 levels persist above 300 µg/m3 and 500 µg/m3 for more than 48 hours.
A large number of people burst crackers across the national capital and its suburbs on Saturday night, flouting the ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal.
Delhi Police arrested 10 people and seized 638 kg of firecrackers on Saturday.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had on Monday imposed a total ban on sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in the National Capital Region (NCR) from November 9 midnight to November 30 midnight, saying “celebration by crackers is for happiness and not to celebrate deaths and diseases”.
According to the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ air quality monitor, SAFAR, the PM2.5 concentration in Delhi on Diwali could have been the “lowest” in the last four years if there were no fireworks. (PTI)