Lack of rain and the presence of humidity ensured a smog-like cover over parts of Bengaluru on Thursday evening as people across the city celebrated Deepavali. Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) officials said last year the thick layer of smoke in the air was absent as there was some amount of rainfall during Deepavali.
Smoke-filled air prevailed despite anecdotal evidence from residents who felt that the number of people bursting firecrackers had come down from past years. “Compared with the previous years, this year the quantity of firecrackers is far lesser. But maybe because of no rain, there was a smell of smoke in air emanating from firecrackers,” said Zibi Jamal, a resident of Whitefield.
Many residents left the city as a precautionary measure. “My mother is asthmatic and I have a dog. During this time, both get affected severely. So for the last few years, we have made it a practice to go away from the city until the festival ends,” said a resident of Indiranagar.
A common complaint this year was of firecrackers being burst well beyond the 10 p.m. deadline prescribed by the KSPCB. “People were bursting firecrackers till 3 a.m. on Thursday. And this area has so many senior citizens. We all understand it is festival time and it comes once a year, but they also have to think about others. We did not bother stopping anyone only because it is Deepavali,” said Gopal Rao, a resident of Malleswaram.
Renuka Prasad, a resident of Shantinagar, also said firecrackers were being burst well after midnight. “The number of firecrackers being burst has definitely reduced. But the deadline has to be kept in mind,” he said.
The BBMP has estimated a 30% increase in wet waste and 30 to 40% increase in dry waste so far. “The dry waste includes packaging and firecracker waste. Firecracker waste has no value and goes to the landfill. The packaging material is recycled,” Sarfaraz Khan, Joint Commissioner, Health and SWM, BBMP.