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Delhi's Diwali day starts with 'very poor' air quality, likely to turn worse

The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality forecast agency said 3,271 farm fires accounted for eight per cent of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on Wednesday.

Published: 04th November 2021 10:49 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th November 2021 01:20 PM   |  A+A-

People commute during a foggy morning, in New Delhi,Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Delhi's Diwali started with "very poor" air quality which is predicted to take a turn for the worse irrespective of cracker bursting, according to authorities.

At 8 am, the capital's air quality index (AQI) stood at 341, up from 314 at 4 pm on Wednesday.

The 24-hour average AQI was 303 on Tuesday and 281 on Monday.

AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.

While SAFAR said the air quality may become 'severe' on November 5 and 6 if firecrackers are burnt, an official from the India Meteorological Department said model predictions do not indicate the AQI reaching the 'severe' category "even with higher emissions".

The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality forecast agency said 3,271 farm fires accounted for eight per cent of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on Wednesday.

It is likely to increase to 20 per cent on Thursday (Diwali) and further to 35 to 40 per cent on Friday and Saturday with the wind direction changing to northwest, it said.

Northwesterly winds carry smoke from farm fires in Punjab and Haryana towards the national capital.

Last year, the share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution had peaked at 42 per cent on November 5.

In 2019, crop residue burning accounted for 44 per cent of Delhi's PM 2.5 pollution on November 1.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai had Wednesday urged the Centre to issue an advisory to Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to completely stop stubble burning during the Diwali period so that people could breathe easy after the festival.

The contribution of stubble burning in Delhi's PM 2.5 concentration was 32 per cent on Diwali day last year as compared to 19 per cent in 2019.

The contribution of farm fires in Delhi's air pollution has remained low this season so far due to the record-breaking rainfall in October and "unfavourable" wind direction for transport of smoke from stubble burning.

SAFAR said "very calm" local Delhi wind conditions with little ventilation is expected for the next three days which will be unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants.

Under a zero firecracker emission scenario, Delhi's PM2.5 concentration is predicted to be in the upper end of the 'very poor' category from November 4 to November 6.

"However, even if we consider 50 per cent of firecracker load of 2019, the AQI is predicted to degrade to the 'severe' category during the period," SAFAR said.

The PM2.5 concentration in the national capital can surpass 500 micrograms per cubic metre on November 5.

The safe limit is 60 micrograms per cubic metre.

On October 27, the Delhi government had launched the 'Patakhe Nahi Diye Jalao' campaign to create awareness against the bursting of crackers.

Action is being taken under relevant IPC provisions and the Explosives Act against anyone found burning crackers under the campaign.

On September 28, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee ordered a complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers in the national capital till January 1, 2022.

The Delhi police has arrested 55 people and seized over 6,000 kilograms of firecrackers since the ban on fireworks in the national capital, officials said on Wednesday.

According to police data, 56 cases have been registered against the 55 people for storing, selling and bursting firecrackers.

Out of total 6,050 kg seized crackers, 2,400 kg was recovered from Delhi Police's north district, followed by Rohini district 1,163 kg and central district 298 kg, the data said.

Police said even though most of the manufacturing and storage units have been shut in the national capital, people engaged in the business have managed to procure firecrackers at lower prices from neighbouring states of Uttar Pradesh and Harayana in huge quantities.

On September 28, the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) had ordered a complete ban on the sale and bursting of firecrackers in the national capital till January 1 next year.

In central Delhi, over 286 kg of firecrackers were seized where these crackers were being sold illegally in Chandni Chowk, Paharganj, Karol Bagh and other market areas, police said.

Firecrackers have been banned in entirety by the Delhi government, and an older ban by National Green Tribunal (and endorsed by the Supreme Court) bans the sale and use of ones made with barium-based formulations in the National Capital Region (NCR).

The Shahdara district police has nabbed four persons and seized 294 kg of illegal firecrackers.

On Tuesday, information was received regarding supply of illicit firecrackers in Anand Vihar area.

Thereafter, a trap was laid and a raid conducted at a shop in Arya Nagar village near Karkardooma.

A total of 235 kg of illegal firecrackers was recovered and shop owner Vinod Kumar (53), a resident of Karkardooma, was arrested.

He purchased firecrackers from Gurgaon in Haryana, a senior police officer said.

Later, the other teams of Shahdara district recovered 59 kg of illegal firecrackers.

The accused have been identified as Ram Avtar, Masum Ali and Harish Singhal, they said.

In another incident, police arrested 38-year-old Manish Gupta, a resident of Mayur Vihar, Phase-3, from Kalyanpuri area.

On Tuesday, police were patrolling in the Kalyanpuri area and around 2.30 pm, they reached the central market.

They saw a person selling crackers in his shop.

Twelve sacks and two cartons of crackers, a total of 236 kg, was recovered from his shop, police said.

Similarly, the northeast district police has nabbed two persons with firecrackers.

The first person, identified as Amit Mittal (36), a resident of Chajjupur, Babarpur was arrested on Tuesday after police raided the premises of Mittal and recovered crackers 32.3 kg.

Mittal revealed that he had procured the firecrackers from Dehradun in Uttarakhand for sale on Diwali, police said.

It has also apprehended a 32-year-old man from Sonia Vihar area.

On Wednesday, police conducted a raid at a house near Shiv Mandir, Chauhanpatti and recovered 81.32 kg firecrackers.

Police nabbed Imran (32), a resident of Chauhanpatti in Sonia Vihar, they said.

Imran rented the house to store the fire crackers for sale during Diwali, they added.



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