Attention Delhi: Diwali ahead

Air quality just a notch below danger mark already

By Vivek Chattopadhyay
Published: Saturday 26 October 2019
Fire cracker smoke. Photo: Getty Images

The national air quality bulletin of the Central Pollution Control Board at 4 PM on October 26, 2019 reminded that Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) could be breathless again on Diwali — the air quality was just a notch below the danger mark.

Delhi, Noida and Gurugram recorded ‘poor’ and Ghaziabad recorded ‘very poor’. The count of particulate matter (PM) 2.5 was deteriorating fast.

At midnight the hourly average PM2.5 was 120.3 microgam per cubic metre, which by noon increased to 124.1 microgam/ cubic metre. By 7 PM the level reached 127.8 microgam/ cubic metre.

The safe level for a 24-hour period is 60 microgram / cubic metre. So, the levels are more than double the safe level.

With negligible wind speed of about 0.3 metre per second, atmospheric conditions were almost stagnant, or calm.

In this situation, lighting any fire cracker — however few — would deteriorate the air quality.

Nitrogen dioxide was also much above safe levels in Delhi.

However, instead of cautioning people about the hazardous air, some authorities reportedly said: “The air quality in Delhi will not be as bad as last year’s Diwali.”

SAFAR, a body under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, has warned that lighting up even half the fire crackers than last year could pull down the air quality index to ‘severe’.

Post-Diwali, bio-mass burning is forecast to increase up to 25 per cent.

So, tough days ahead for the capital region and many neighbouring cities.

Death by breath
Struggling for breath around Diwali time is a given for Delhi and the whole of north India. Firecrackers are an obvious culprit; but there are meteorological reasons as well that make the situation severe. A look back:
Diwali 2018
Diwali 2017
Diwali 2016
Diwali 2015
Diwali 2014
And here's our complete coverage on air pollution in India.

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