Diwali: Firecrackers choke Delhi as people flout ban; AQI worsens
Delhiites celebrated a noisy Diwali on Monday with no holds barred despite a ban on firecrackers in place, pushing the air quality from the "poor" to "very poor" category, as recorded by over 40 monitoring stations across the national capital on Tuesday morning. However, this Diwali, Delhi saw the second least polluted air in seven years, with an air quality index (AQI) of 312.
Why does this story matter?
- Pollution levels in Delhi are a matter of concern for all its residents, especially with firecrackers and stubble burning raising toxic air levels during the winter season.
- Last year, Delhi witnessed a harrowing "severe" air quality on the morning after Diwali, even though the government banned firecrackers.
- The AQI remained "poor" for several days in the city prior to Diwali this year.
Taking potshots at CM Kejriwal, BJP leaders encouraged bursting firecrackers
Among metros, Kolkata sees best AQI, Chennai records 'poor' air
Compared to the country's other metropolitan cities, Delhi saw the worst air quality on Diwali. Most of Mumbai recorded an AQI below 200, which is termed "moderate." The AQI in Bengaluru ranged from "moderate" to "satisfactory," while most of Chennai witnessed "poor" air quality. The only exception was Kolkata as most parts of the city recorded "good" air quality.
Comparison of AQI in Delhi, Kolkata
Meanwhile, Delhi not on list of Asia's most polluted cities
However, a pat on the back for Delhi was it not finding a spot among the 10 most polluted cities of Asia despite there being eight Indian cities on the list. Its satellite city of Gurugram in Haryana, however, topped the list with an AQI of 679, and Dharuhera town near Rewari recorded an AQI of 543, followed by Muzaffarpur in Bihar notching 316.
Complaints of burning eyes, itchy skin reported
Meanwhile, Delhi residents complained of a burning sensation in their eyes due to smoke from firecrackers and itchy skin. The AQI in Delhi was one level shy of the "severe" category, the most hazardous level "affecting healthy people and seriously impacting those with existing illnesses." The AQI levels on Monday were: Ghaziabad (301), Noida (303), Greater Noida (270), Gurugram (325), and Faridabad (256).
Data showed pollution from firecrackers, stubble burning had come down
What is the scale of AQI?
To recall, Delhi saw the worst air quality in five years, a day after Diwali last year, when the 24-hour average AQI reached above 462. An AQI between 0 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."
SC upheld ban in September
To recall, after a key meeting on air pollution, the Delhi government in September decided to continue its ban on firecrackers for the third consecutive Diwali until January 1. However, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Manoj Tiwari moved the Supreme Court in September, challenging the Delhi government's firecracker ban. The apex court had turned down Tiwari's plea, citing concerning levels of air pollution during Diwali.