Delhi’s air quality has returned to the’severe’ category after a slight improvement for two consecutive days. The AQI readings were alarming, with RK Puram at 417, Punjabi Bagh at 410, ITO at 430, and Jahangirpuri at 428. The late-night bursting of crackers, violating the ban imposed, was the primary cause of the spike in pollution levels post Diwali.
After experiencing a slight improvement in air quality for two consecutive days, Delhi witnessed a return to the ‘severe’ category of air pollution on Tuesday. The national capital was enveloped in a thick layer of smog, causing reduced visibility.
The AQI readings were alarming, with RK Puram at 417, Punjabi Bagh at 410, ITO at 430, and Jahangirpuri at 428. Ghaziabad, neighboring Delhi, also reported ‘very poor’ air quality according to the Central Pollution Control Board.
Despite a relatively better air quality on Diwali day, which was the best in eight years, Delhi’s air quality deteriorated to the ‘poor’ category on Monday. This reversal was attributed to the late-night bursting of crackers, violating the ban imposed.
“It’s evident that the spike in pollution levels post Diwali is due to two factors — firecracker bursting and farm fires — with fireworks being the predominant reason in this case,” an official of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), a statutory body responsible for formulation of strategies to reduce pollution in Delhi-NCR, told PTI.
Early in the morning, firecracker explosions caused the PM2.5 concentration in some parts of the capital, notably Okhla and Jahangirpuri, to rise above 1,000 micrograms per cubic metre.
The day after Diwali, air pollution levels shot up in many Indian cities, according to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
In the cities of Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh it rose from 235 to 385; 152 to 361 in Kaithal, Haryana; 180 to 380 in Bathinda, Punjab; 211 to 346 in Bharatpur, Rajasthan; 260 to 380 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha; and 214 to 355 Cuttack, Odisha.
Further, data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) shows that around 2 am on Monday, PM2.5 pollution levels at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium reached a record 1,423 micrograms per cubic metre. However, as the temperature rose, these levels steadily decreased to 101 micrograms per cubic metre by 12 noon.
At 1 am on Monday, the PM2.5 concentration at Okhla was 1,629 micrograms per cubic metre; by 12 noon, it had dropped to 157 micrograms.
A research by the DPCC shows that during Diwali, the levels of microscopic, lung-damaging particulate matter PM2.5 and PM10 increased by 45% and 33%, respectively, compared to the previous year.
In addition, almost every Delhi air quality monitoring station reported higher pollution levels on Diwali day this year than the year before, according to the pollution control board.
Notably, CPCB data shows that Delhi had an AQI of 312 on Diwali last year.
As air quality worsens, a political blame game has ensued, with the AAP and BJP accusing each other. The smoky haze returned on Monday morning, negating the positive impact of rain.
In response to the escalating pollution levels, authorities at Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, a government facility in the city, have decided to establish a dedicated Out-Patient Department (OPD) to address illnesses related to pollution.
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