Air quality dips in Delhi, a day after Diwali

New Delhi, Oct 31 (IANS) A severe dip in air quality was observed in Delhi during the Diwali weekend due to bursting of crackers and adverse weather conditions, an air quality review by the state government said on Monday.

The review was done to map the adverse impacts on air quality during the last three days, including Diwali on Sunday.

The assessment of Ambient Air Quality was undertaken at six locations, that is, R.K. Puram, Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, Civil Lines, Anand Vihar and IGI Airport. Noise levels at the above-mentioned locations were also monitored, except for the airport.

As per the review, the carbon monoxide (CO) levels on Diwali ranged from 2.0 mg/m3 to 4.2 mg/m3 (microgram/cubic metre) in comparison with 1.1 mg/m3 to 4.0 mg/m3 during last year’s Diwali.

Particulate Matter 10 or PM10 levels ranged from 448 µg/m3 to 939 µg/m3, a steep increase from last Diwali’s 296 µg/m3 to 778µg/m3.

PM 10 is called so because of its diameter which is 10 micrometre or less. To put it in perspective, a human hair is 100 micrometre wide.

Another harmful pollutant, PM 2.5, ranged from 180 µg/m3 to 440 µg/m3. These are fine particles which emanate from automobiles, burning of wood, and construction material. They are responsible for making the atmosphere hazy marked by low visibility.

PM 2.5 is one of the most harmful pollutants and can easily percolate and get stuck in lungs, causing respiratry problems, sneezing, coughing and shortness of breath.

The safe level for PM 10 is under 100 microgram/cubic metre and PM 2.5 is under 60 microgram/cubic metre, as per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).

The air situation was reviewed by the Delhi Environment Minister Imran Hussain in a meeting with senior departmental officials and scientists of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC).

The Delhi government had earlier appealed to people to abstain from fireworks, and attributed the worsening air quality to trans-state movement of pollutants and adverse weather conditions.

To keep the pollution under control, the DPCC constituted 12 teams consisting of SDMs (Sub-Divisional Magistrates) and other officers to check the sale of imported and illegal firecrackers.

The teams visited all the districts of Delhi in general and specifically major firecracker markets in the city throughout the week and seized illegal firecrackers.

Besides, it also issued directions to Customs authorities and Delhi Police under The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, to not allow the import and sale of Chinese firecrackers in Delhi.

The review also lauded the efforts of the anti-firecracker campaign, which resulted in a lot of schoolchildren abstaining from fireworks on Diwali.

A task-force was ordered to be set up by Chief Minister Arvind kejriwal to tackle air pollution and solid waste management, headed by Health Minister Satyendar Jain and Environment Minister Imran Hussain and Water Minister Kapil Mishra as its members.