CHENNAI: This Diwali proved to be nothing short of an environmental disaster and nightmare for people with respiratory problems. A thick blanket of smog entered homes as pollution levels hit an all-time high posing serious health hazards. Data released by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) shows that Particulate Matter (PM10) was eight times above prescribed levels. The city’s firecrackers hub Sowcarpet recorded a dangerous 777 µg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre) of air of PM10 as against the permissible concentration value of 100.
“I have been in Chennai for more than eight years. This is the first time I am seeing so much smoke around. It was even difficult to stay at home, as it was suffocating,” said Anderson from Mandaveli.
The TNPCB conducted ambient air quality and noise level surveys in five places in Chennai — Triplicane, Besant Nagar, Nungambakkam, Sowcarpet and T Nagar — to monitor the impact of Diwali celebrations. The 24-hour ambient air quality surveys were conducted from 6 am on October 12 (pre-Diwali survey) and from 6 am on October 18 (Diwali survey).
Meanwhile in Mumbai, residents woke up to a smoggy morning on Thursday, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) at the US Consulate reaching a hazardous level of 341 at 6 am. In Kolkata, pollution levels rose even before Kali Puja. Many burst firecrackers early out of fear that it would rain on the day of Kali Puja and dampen festivities.
Despite ban, Delhi chokes
Pollution levels rose and air quality in Delhi worsened despite the SC ban on sale of firecrackers in the National Capital Region. On Thursday morning, the Air Quality Index in Anand Vihar and Punjabi Bagh had reached ‘hazardous’ levels. In RK Puram, it entered the ‘very unhealthy’ category