Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Peak Pollution In Delhi: Despite Cracker Ban, AQI Touches Hazardous 999 After Diwali

Diwali Pollution In Delhi: As the city rested after bursting crackers in Diwali, despite the ban, the particulate matter did too. The Air Quality Index(AQI) in Delhi peaked at hazardous upper limits of 999 at multiple monitoring stations.

Peak Pollution In Delhi: Despite Cracker Ban, AQI Touches Hazardous 999 After Diwali
Pm2.5 pollutants touched the AQI of 999 (the hazardous upper limit) at multiple monitoring stations in Delhi. Twitter/AQICN.org

Pollution in Delhi increased hazardously on the eve of Diwali. The AQI recorded at Janpath in the middle of the night was reflecting a hazardous 655 for Pm2.5 and around 705 for Pm10 pollutants. Currently, the AQI at most of the monitoring stations in Delhi is at 999 (the upper limit of the monitoring stations) to which, firecrackers are being highly attributed. People are experiencing itchy throats, watery eyes and some, difficulty in breathing.

Most of the international experts agree that when the Air Quality Index (of Pm2.5 pollutants) crosses the 300 mark it is considered 'hazardous'.  According to the Indian Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), the air quality is considered to be in the “emergency” category if the lunga damaging PM2.5 and PM10 levels continue to be above 300 micrograms per cubic metre and 500 micrograms per cubic metre, respectively, for 48 hours or more. Currently, Delhi is breathing hazardous air as the festival of lights, Diwali has come to an end. 

It has to be noted that the Air Quality Index data provided by the Delhi Pollution Control Committee is reflecting higher values than the data provided by the Central government. Most of the Monitoring stations in central Delhi according to the former, reflect the city touching the upper limit of AQI of Pm 2.5 pollutants at 999 at multiple monitoring stations.

As of yesterday, System of Air Quality And Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) had predicted that while the overall air quality of Delhi was plunged into the upper end of very poor category (within 5% accuracy). It will continue to fall now and may enter at the edge of very poor to Severe category by Diwali midnight even without any emission from fire crackers – a prediction which today morning’s data substantiated.

Delhi government had banned the sale and bursting of all firecrackers on Diwali, including green crackers but accounts from multiple sources, all over Delhi, said that firecrackers were openly being burst. They also complained of headaches, itchy throat and watery eyes, as the thick layer of smog is blocking the sunlight Friday morning. 

The Haryana government had imposed a ban on the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in 14 of its districts in the National Capital Region while Uttar Pradesh government had allowed the use of green crackers on Diwali only for two hours in areas with moderate or better air quality.

SAFAR, which functions under the central government also said, if firecrackers are burned even 50% of the amount last year then PM2.5 will enter the SEVERE category by midnight and shoot up rapidly by early Friday morning with AQI even crossing 500+. Checking the Air Quality data with Delhi Government’s Pollution Control Committee, most of the stations are reporting the upper limit 999 reading of Pm 2.5 pollutants.

The extremely calm wind conditions in Delhi combined with 25 per cent stubble share (fire count 2293) were 2 major factors yesterday. As per SAFAR model forecast, the stubble share will touch ~35% Friday (5th Nov) and around 40 per cent on 6th Nov. and 7th Nov. Relief is expected only from the evening of 7th Nov but AQI will fluctuate within the Very Poor range.

While SAFAR data is still lingering at the AQI of 400, the DPCC data shows that the condition of air in Delhi is way over this mark and is of hazardous quality.