New Delhi: On Diwali this year, close to 5 million kilograms of firecrackers were estimated to have been burnt in Delhi — the same as last year, leading to an emission of 150,000 kg of PM 2.5, says a report by research group Urban Emissions.
PM 2.5 particles are invisible to the naked eye and can penetrate the respiratory system, causing a series of health issues from breathing difficulties to cancer.
This, officials said, confirmed what was already known — that like last year, the Supreme Court’s orders on firecrackers were openly flouted.
Pollution in Delhi exceeded the safe limit by 66 times and the city remained shrouded in a haze of toxic air.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said that the AQI for Delhi was around 574 and said, “Air Quality Index entered in ‘Severe’ category at 2 am after midnight on 8th November and will continue to remain in SEVERE until evening. The smoke layer has been formed after 1AM and brought down inversion layer and trapping pollutants rapidly. Surface winds are continuing to play a major role and now it became CALM (2.1kmph) as expected and rapid build-up due to stagnation is expected until noon (sic).”
It added that contribution from “stubble fire” , or smoke coming in from Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh, was “marginal”, putting the blame firmly on Delhi’s doorstep.
“The Supreme Court’s orders were not followed — that much is clear. What is even worse is that it doesn’t appear the Delhi Police or police forces in Uttar Pradesh or Haryana were serious about following through and making arrests as they had said they will,” said a senior official of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee, Delhi’s pollution watchdog.
The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed manufacture and sale of only ‘green crackers’, which have low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.
The official added, “We have repeatedly received information that while in some places the fire crackers weren’t lit before the stipulated time, people kept burning them through the night. The dip in air quality also mirrors this.”
Delhi Police arrested 31 people while seizing 600 kg of illegal crackers, of which 200 kg of firecrackers were seized from Dwarka and 278 kg from southeast Delhi, said officers.
As many as 209 calls were received by the Delhi Fire Services on Diwali, including one related to a huge fire in a factory at Bawana, officials said.
Of these, 89 calls were related to fire incidents at garbage and dumpyards, while the rest were related to fire incidents involving electric wires, at factories and residential areas, a senior Delhi Fire Services officer said.
The officials said the number of calls related to firecrackers was comparatively low, but there was no decline in the number of calls related to fire incidents.