New Delhi —
one of the most polluted cities in the world — will have to brace itself in the upcoming Diwali week.
In the last three years, country's capital has seen the air quality slip from 'very poor' to 'severe', on the day of Diwali. According to the World Health Organisation,
India has the world's 14 most polluted cities, of which New Delhi is the most polluted.
To combat the rising air pollution, the city has rolled out an
emergency plan. However, with festival season kicking in, the steps are unlikely to bear fruit.
Last year, when the Supreme Court temporarily banned the sale of firecrackers in and around New Delhi, the resulting emissions were cut by about 30 percent, government officials
told . Reuters
Sure enough, in the three-year trend, the capital relatively breathed its best on Diwali day as the air quality index was 319. However, in the next morning, the air quality index slipped between 342 and 355 and then shot up to 595 to 'severe' levels.
In 2016, Diwali in the capital was nothing but a blanket of smog. On the day of the festival, the air quality level was 'severe' at 426, and in 2015, the air quality index was 'very poor' at 327.
As of today, New Delhi is dealing with the air quality ranging from 'very poor' to 'hazardous' in the city. The
real-time air quality index in Jahangirpur area of the city at 12:20 pm on Friday stood at 469, which is 'hazardous', according to the index. The recent trend in the past week shows that New Delhi is unlikely to breathe easy on the Diwali day.
The index mentioned above is the particulate matter, i.e., PM10. In the capital, PM10 and PM2.5 are the dominant pollutants. The acceptable levels of PM10, the larger particulate matter, and PM 2.5, the finer and more dangerous particulate matter, are 100µg/ m3 and 60µg/m3, respectively.
The root of the air pollution problem has been shortlisted to stubble burning in the north India, which plays a major role in degrading the air quality, along with construction activities.
The bursting of firecrackers contributed to the deteriorating air quality and during Diwali, it's pegged as one of the major factors responsible for high levels of air pollution in the country. This is because crackers emit a lot of toxic chemicals in the air.
The Supreme Court
on Tuesday refused to impose a complete ban on firecrackers, but ruled that there will be no online sale of crackers.
The country’s top court said barium salt and other elements in the cracker produce a lot of noise and will be banned from hereon and ruled in favour of the centre's suggestion to allow ecrackers and low emission crackers, as it 'strikes a nice balance'.
Crackers are not the only problem New Delhi has to worry about. According to a
report, from November 1, coinciding with the Diwali week, the pollution caused by paddy stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana is expected to impact the region. Times of India
This is despite a government plan to discourage the burning of crop residue by offering to pay up to 80 percent of the cost of certain farm equipment.
"We are heading into a deadly cocktail with Diwali and peak stubble burning time," an unnamed official told
Reuters on Thursday. "If we come back into the 'poor' category of pollution, it will be a very big achievement," he added.
The capital, along with Mumbai, saw a deteriorating air quality even during the The state of the air quality index brings out a larger question — Will India be able to achieve the goals it signed in the Paris Accord, 2017?
festival of Dusshera. The rising air pollution makes a city vulnerable to illnesses breathing sicknesses such as asthama, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), weakening of the lungs, among others.