The Capital’s air quality this post-Diwali has been the worst in five years, with Monday recording a huge spike in concentration levels of fine particulate matter.
With air quality failing to bounce back ever 24 hours after the festival because of lack of wind, Delhiites have had to suffer longer this year.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) of the Union Earth Science Ministry, the average level of PM2.5 was around 300 micrograms per cubic metre or five times the standard of 60 on Diwali day. On Monday, the PM2.5 level shot up to over 600 micrograms per cubic metre.
With the weather conditions unfavourable for dispersion, the pollution remained ‘severe’ on Tuesday as well, with PM2.5 being recorded at 315 micrograms per cubic metre and PM10 at 468 or four times the safe level of 100.
In comparison, the days after Diwali in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 saw much lower PM2.5 levels. Last year, the PM2.5 level after Diwali was just under 200 micrograms per cubic metre, and the year before it was about 250. Apart from 2015, the days after Diwali in 2012, 2013 and 2014 saw lower PM2.5 levels than the day of the festival.
According to SAFAR, the air quality is expected to improve slightly only on Wednesday, but it will still be “very poor”.
“The impact of firecracker emissions has been seen for a longer duration this year due to low dispersion. We need to focus on year-round plans to combat pollution, not just one day,” said Anumita Roychowdhury of the Centre for Science and Environment.
She added that the State government should already have had in place short, medium and long term plans to deal with pollution, particularly the spike in winter.