Delhi’s air quality level remains ‘severe’ despite improvement


For representational purposes

The smog over Delhi has thickened in last 48 hours, after the Diwali celebrations which led to an unprecedented increase in the pollution.

The national capital saw its first smog episode on November 5.

Mumbai Mirror conducted a pollution test drive and joined volunteers of Aawaz Foundation to see how noisy the city was and Urban Sciences employee Naved Nakadar to check the air quality this Diwali.

A thick haze settled over Delhi on November 8 as firecracker emissions mixed with the air.

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The move comes as Delhi's air quality index (AQI) post-Diwali dropped to 642 in the "severe plus emergency". Yet, reports suggest that Indians really do care more about annoying their neighbours, frightening animals, and literally blowing up money in the guise of having a good time, over life's more simple pleasures - like breathing.

The transport ministry said that vehicles carrying food and other essentials were exempted, while appealing to private owners of diesel sports utility vehicles (SUVs) to leave their cars at home.

Sumaira Abdulali, founder of Awaaz Foundation, which has been campaigning against noise pollution for years, said, "All I can say is that the Supreme Court's guidelines were flouted, but the state government and its machinery tried their best to check people and adhere to the permissible time limit". The PM10 level was six times the permissable limit at 618 gm-3, according to SAFAR.

Measures of tiny poisonous particulate matter, or PM 2.5 particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter, reached an average of 401 across Delhi at 1600 IST (1030 GMT), the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said.

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The court also ruled that firecrackers could only be set off between 8:00 pm and 10:00 pm, but their bangs were still reverberating around city neighbourhoods well after midnight.

According to SAFAR, the air quality in Delhi had "improved significantly" since Thursday, but the recovery was "slow due to low surface wind speed".

The court had said police should ensure that there was no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the Station House Officer of the area police station would be held liable and this would amount to committing contempt of the court.

Senior Delhi Police officials admitted "sporadic" breaches of the top court's order on bursting crackers beyond the 8pm to 10pm time frame fixed by it.

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The areas where the violations were recorded included Mayur Vihar Extension, Lajpat Nagar, Lutyens' Delhi, IP extension, Dwarka and Noida Sector 78.

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