There was less dust in the air when compared to previous years; flights delayed in the morning
The day before Pongal is when everything usually goes up in smoke, literally. On Bhogi, the old and the used, whether it is clothes, mats or paper is burnt. Over the years, however, a growing consciousness of the environmental hazards of burning plastic and rubber, and the smog that sends the city into a freeze, has led to residents going slow on the burning part. This year, it was a mixed bag, with some areas in the city nearly clear, while others were covered with visibly thick fog.
The amount of dust particles in the ambient air was considerably less, when compared to at least the last 3-4 years. Though visibility was low due to thick fog till about 8 a.m., residents in most areas in the city said that there was not much smoke in it.
G. Ramakrishnan, a resident of Besant Nagar, said it was a pleasant morning for a walk. “There was no smoke, I saw only one resident lighting a bonfire. However, I do miss the traditional Pongal celebrations I am used to in my native Mayiladuthurai. We would be busy on all three days, especially with cleaning the house and cattle shed. It used to be fun painting the horns of cattle and travelling on the bullock cart,” he said.
The recorded respirable suspended particulate matter (RSPM) level of 104 microgram/cubic metre, the lowest among the 15 stations of the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board, was recorded in Besant Nagar. But there were also pockets like Royapuram and Virugambakkam, which recorded RSPM levels of 258 microgram/cubic metre and 233 microgram/cubic metre respectively.
The permissible limit for RSPM is 100 microgram/cubic metre. Both Madipakkam and Kolathur recorded RSPM levels of 185 microgram/cubic metre.
The teams of the TNPCB did put out fires, but in some areas like Kannagi Nagar in Thoraipakkam, people burnt old mats and clothes from as early as 3 a.m.
“It is a tradition… we didn’t have any mosquitoes thanks to the smoke,” said K. Velayudham, a resident of Kannagi Nagar.
Meanwhile, at the Chennai airport, the fog caused a few delays in departures as areas around the airport, including Pallavaram, Pozhichalur and Tambaram were covered by a thick blanket of fog in the morning. Officials of the Aerodrome Meteorological Centre said that the visibility in areas around the airport, which was 300 m around 6.40 a.m., dropped to 250 m around 7.10 a.m. It took over an hour for the visibility to improve to 700 m.
R. Suresh, director, Aerodrome Meteorological Centre said that fog prevailed on Monday morning due to high humidity levels and lower atmospheric stability. Unlike last year, the runway visual range, which helps flights to land or take off, was 600-700 metre, about 100 metre above the required range, he said.
The observatory at Nungambakkam recorded presence of fog at 5.30 p.m. and it was reduced to haze by 8.30 a.m.