Air quality of Delhi turns hazardous as thick smog engulfs national capital

Guwahati People busy buying green crackers for Diwali in Guwahati on Nov 7 2018

Guwahati People busy buying green crackers for Diwali in Guwahati on Nov 7 2018

Delhi is struggling to breathe with the air quality only worsening day by day.

Despite the Supreme Courts directives, Delhi-NCR burst firecrackers on Diwali well past the 10 p.m. deadline that showed the AQI at a slightly improved level over previous year.

This would have given time to traders to procure licences to sell green firecrackers, Sadar Nishkarm Welfare Association president Harjit Singh Chabbra said.

A level of 50 or less is considered safe. The situation was particularly serious in cities like Ghaziabad, Noida and Kanpur.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) reported a 24-hr average PM2.5 level at 450 microgram/m3 at 5 PM on Thursday for Delhi. The day after Diwali, November 8, however, saw a higher concentration of PM 2.5, at 127 µg/m3, and PM 10, at 195.3µg/m3, which fall in the "very poor" and "poor" category respectively.

Few Delhi residents wear face masks when they go out in heavy smog and joggers and passersby were out as normal near parliament early on Thursday. "This is why, the day after Diwali, medical experts nearly always see a spike in respiratory disorders". However, there were no "green" fireworks available for sale and many fireworks were let off before and after the designated two-hour period.

Authorities have been reluctant to ban fireworks to avoid offending members of the majority Hindu community.

On Wednesday night Delhites largely defied a court order and set off an vast barrage of smoke-spewing firecrackers to celebrate the major Hindu festival of Diwali, sending pollution levels soaring.

"Northeasterly winds at moderate speed, and sporadic rainfall in areas around Mumbai, stopped pollution levels from reaching extremely high levels on Wednesday as it otherwise does during this time of the year", said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR. This utter disregard for the directive from the highest court of the land reflects a sorry state of affairs in a country that has already earned the dubious distinction of being among the world's worst polluted regions.

The government blamed the toxic stew on a combination of the burning of stubble in agricultural fields and firecrackers.

"Air pollution causes lung problems, irritation, watery eyes and itching". Last year, the government has proposed the possibility of reducing dust by watering Delhi from a helicopter to Union Minister Harsh Vardhan. Around this time a year ago, he declared a public health crisis, shutting down schools for a week and told residents to remain indoors.

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