Delhites score own goal this Diwali

Although the city had a good chance of avoiding a mishap seen in the last two years, citizens chose to play hide-and-seek with the law

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 08 November 2018
Diwali Fire Crackers

The people of Delhi are squarely responsible for the apocalyptic look that their city is displaying on the day after Diwali.

Delhi’s pollution levels spiked up again after 3 AM on Thursday morning, after the city’s residents celebrated the Festival of Lights, by violating the recent Supreme Court order, of course. According to autonomous meteorological body set up under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, SAFAR, there was a forecast for the air quality to deteriorate on November 8 onwards, given the predicted unfavorable meteorological factors. Based on this, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority or EPCA set into motion several actions under the Graded Response Action Plan or GRAP. Specific directions were also issued keeping in mind the expected deterioration in air quality post-Diwali.

The city had a good chance of avoiding a repeat of the previous two years. It saw its first smog episode on November 5. Since mid-October, agencies in the city had been making necessary arrangements to see to it that Delhi did not have another smoggy Diwali. Even the weather was supportive. The skies were clearing fast enough.

But with Delhites playing hide-and-seek with the law, it now seems that the smog is here to stay. According to media reports, on Diwali this year, close to 5 million kilograms of firecrackers were estimated to have been burnt in Delhi—the same as last year, leading to an emission of 150,000 kg of PM 2.5, says a report by research group Urban Emissions.

Delhi Police arrested 31 people while seizing 600 kg of illegal crackers, of which 200 kg of firecrackers were seized from Dwarka and 278 kg from southeast Delhi.

The Supreme Court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed manufacture and sale of only “green crackers”, which have low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.

For action on air pollution to be successful, there needs to be active co-operation from the citizenry, along with a control & command approach. The onus on compliance with the said directives is on community groups, Resident Welfare Associations and individuals, along with enforcement from the state.

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