Diwali leaves denizens of Delhi gasping for breath

New Delhi records nine times higher pollution level than normal

Updated - May 23, 2016 04:48 pm IST

Published - October 25, 2014 10:53 am IST - NEW DELHI:

Diwali has left the Capital gasping for breath with the city recording nine times higher air pollution level than normal. The Meteorology Department has cautioned that Delhiites will have to fight the increased air pollution level over the weekend too.

Delhi has recorded the highest level of Respirable Suspended Particulate Matter (RSPM) pollution post-Diwali this year at 531 mg per cubic metre - more than five times higher than the normal level leaving many at risk of respiratory problems - followed by Kolkata where the suspended particulate matter level was 417 mg per cubic metre and Chennai at 320 mg per cubic metre.

Barring nitrogen oxides, which registered the highest level of 194 micrograms per metre cube at Punjabi Bagh, all the other pollution parameters were this year, however, relatively lower than last year. Be it carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, particulate matter –PM10 or particulate matter 2.5, the pollution levels on Diwali this year has been lower than the 2013 Diwali.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) had earlier warned against the significant rise in air pollution level in the Capital. .

The study, which covered 1,600 cities, said that India has 13 of the 20 cities with the worst air quality worldwide.

On the eve of Diwali the city registered a high level of carbon and nitrogen monoxides, and coupled with a wind speed of around 0.3 metres/second the city virtually choked with the escalated air pollution level.

“Over the last one week, PM2.5 and PM10 have shown higher values than prescribed standards. However, this concentration is in tandem with values observed in pre-Diwali in the previous years. No significant changes were observed and the same trend was observed in the gaseous pollutants,’’ said a release issued by the Delhi Government on Friday.

“Humidity on Friday oscillated between 50 and 91 per cent ,” said the Meteorology Department, adding that the city is expected to see mist and shallow fog on Saturday morning with the day remaining partly cloudy with the possibility of one or two spells of light rainfall and thundershowers.

Anumita Roychoudhury, executive director, Centre for Science and Environment, said, “On Diwali day (Thursday) the air progressively got worse after 5 p.m. What added to the rise in the pollution level was the fact that the weather was calm and that there was no wind to blow the smoke away. Delhi air was heavy and polluted.”

Like previous years, the Delhi Government has claimed that it had taken steps to contain the air pollution level during Diwali through a multi-pronged anti-firecrackers campaign with the support of various stakeholders, including eco-clubs, schools and colleges . A mass awareness campaign was also carried out through FM Channels and print media.

The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had also constituted eight teams to assist District Magistrates and police authorities to visit areas to check the level of noise pollution and check shops randomly on compliance of sound-emitting firecrackers as per the government notification.

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