Pollution

Diwali 2022: Delhi air ‘very poor’, can worsen to ‘severe’

Farm stubble burning increased in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan; Firecracker ban in Delhi goes up in smoke too

 
By Vivek Mishra
Published: Tuesday 25 October 2022
Firecrackers were burst in Delhi on Diwali 2022 despite a ban: Photo: Vikas Choudhary
Firecrackers were burst in Delhi on Diwali 2022 despite a ban: Photo: Vikas Choudhary Firecrackers were burst in Delhi on Diwali 2022 despite a ban: Photo: Vikas Choudhary

The air quality in Delhi and the National Capital Region rapidly deteriorated on the night of October 24, 2022, thanks to increased stubble-burning incidents and bursting of firecrackers despite a ban in place. However, Diwali 2022 saw slightly cleaner air this time, with air quality eroding from ‘poor’ category to ‘very poor’.

Air quality in Delhi is in ‘very poor’ category and is likely to remain in the zone until October 26, 2022, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), an air quality monitoring and forecasting agency.


Read more: Diwali pollution: Delhi air quality to be in ‘poor’ & ‘very poor’ categories today, tomorrow


Stubble-burning incidents in the northwest part of the country, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, went up after October 21, according to SAFAR. Around 100-400 fire events in the region were reported till October 20, which went up to 1,400 fires on the night of October 23, showing satellite imagery.

The air quality in around 21 out of 32 pollution monitoring stations was recorded at ‘very poor’ level till 8.10 pm on October 24, according to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The remaining stations recorded ‘poor’ levels on the air quality index (AQI).

The air quality in Haryana, western parts of Uttar Pradesh and some cities in Bihar was also in ‘poor’ category of the AQI at 9:10 pm on October 24, showed CPCB data.

CPCB’s AQI has several categories: An AQI of 1-50 is ‘good’, 51-100 is ‘satisfactory’, 101-200 is ‘moderate’, 201-300 is ‘poor’, 301-400 is ‘very poor’ and 401-500 is ‘severe’ category. Air quality of more than 501 is in an ‘emergency’ zone.

Incidents of stubble burning may increase further, said CPCB. The wind blowing from the northwest may further affect the air quality of Delhi.

Delhi’s air quality is expected to remain between ‘very poor’ and ‘severe’ category for the next three days, said SAFAR. The share of very fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the capital has reached 55 per cent.


Read more: Green crackers answer to Diwali pollution but manufacturing limited


The share of pollution caused by crop residue burning can also reach 10 per cent. In this case, the air quality can get worse.

Diwali 2021, which was celebrated November 5, 2021, saw Delhi-NCR enveloped by smog. However, the late October rains this year kept the air relatively cleaner. Temperatures have also not dropped significantly, so pollutants have not been weighed down yet.

The long weekend around the festival meant several migrants went to visit their hometowns for Diwali, bringing more relief for the capital.

CPCB monitored 168 surveillance stations in the country from October 23 to 24. Out of these, the air of 24 stations was recorded in the poor category. Delhi (312 AQI), Gurugram (322 AQI), Begusarai (325 AQI), Noida (305 AQI) were recorded in the ‘very poor’ category.

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