KSPCB says rain helped air quality during Deepavali celebrations, but did it really?

Firecrackers being burst in the middle of a street in Bengaluru on Sunday night.   | Photo Credit: K. MURALI KUMAR

The rain on Sunday may have helped ensure that the air quality in the city did not see a drastic decline during the Deepavali celebrations, according to the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB).

KSPCB officials said the air quality was in the ‘satisfactory’ range on Sunday and Monday. “This was largely because of the rain that lashed the city on Sunday evening. That apart, there is now a lot more awareness among citizens of the ill-effects of bursting firecrackers, thanks to various campaigns,” an official said.

However, Greenpeace, a non-governmental environmental organisation, and Ambee, an environment startup, claim otherwise.

According to Sunil Dahiya, analyst (Energy and Air Pollution), Greenpeace, PM (particulate matter) 2.5 concentrations were observed at above 200 micrograms at most of the stations, taking it to the ‘hazardous’ category. “When it was raining in most parts of the city on Sunday evening, around the time crackers are burst most, we thought the air quality would not touch hazardous levels. However, the data recorded shows that we, as citizens, have our ways of contributing to air pollution,” he said.

A statement from Ambee, which has installed 100 sensors across the city, said Air Quality Index (AQI) is a measure of air quality computed by taking into account major air pollutants such as particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrogen dioxide. Over the past month, the AQI in the city has averaged between 80 and 120 — which is approximately 2.5 to 3.5 times above the desired range of 0-50. The reasons include increased urban emissions from vehicular traffic, particularly in October owing to increased movement of trucks and buses for the festive season, industrial pollution, garbage burning, and ongoing construction activities, road repair and metro work. Although rain reduces the PM 2.5 count, it does little to gaseous pollutants such as carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide, a release said.

Welcome dampener

Many residents were actually glad when it started raining on Sunday evening. D.S. Rajashekhar, former president of the Citizens Action Forum, noted that the number of people bursting crackers had come down this year. “The rain also helped as many were not able to burst firecrackers,” he said.

For the residents of Kudlu, Haralakunte, Hosapalya, Somasundarapalya and Parangipalya, breathing air of good quality has been a long-pending demand. The residents, under the banner of Kudlu, Haralakunte, Hosapalya, Somasundarapalya and Parangipalya Residents’ Welfare Association, had even launched a “#RighttoBreath campaign”, demanding closure of the Karnataka Compost Development Corporation’s waste processing plant. This plant, they said, was contributing to the poor air quality in the area. “Air quality is poor throughout the year for us, not just during Deepavali,” said Kamesh Rastogi, a member of the RWA.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2022 12:56:01 AM |

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