New Delhi, Nov 6 : Unfavourable meteorological conditions, increased farm fire count from Punjab and Haryana, and use of fire crackers by Delhi-NCR residents proved to be a deadly combination, pushing the air quality to the “hazardous” level with PM 2.5 concentration in the 800 to 1,700 micrograms per cubic metre range.
“Hazardous category of PM 2.5 was observed on November 4, the Diwali night. All observing stations of Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) have shown the range of PM 2.5 from about 800 to 1,700 micrograms per metre cube during 8 p.m. on Thursday to 5 a.m. on Friday, peaking around after midnight,” an analysis by researchers from Delhi University said.
Some of the stations, for instance Dwarka, Jahangirpuri, R.K. Puram, Nehru Stadium, and Anand Vihar showed extremely high values of 1,400-1,700 micrograms per metre cube during midnight and wee hours on Friday.
Delhi University’s Rajdhani College Professor of Physics and Environment, Radio and Atmospheric Lab, S.K. Dhaka, who is also the honorary President of Earth Root Foundation, carried out the analysis and observations for particulate matter data with his team.
Working on the pollutants measurements and related issues, the work of measuring pollutants in Delhi NCR forms a part of Aakash project of RIHN Kyoto (Japan) with Professor Sachiko Hayashida.
Despite the Delhi government prescribing guidelines to burn crackers between 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. using only the green category of firecrackers to avoid high pollution and keeping low noise level, pollution data showed that people resorted to bursting all categories of fire crackers, thus creating the very high value of PM 2.5.
Compared to the same time on November 3, the particulate matter levels increased up to 4-5 times while other gaseous pollutants, including that of sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide etc, increased by a factor of 5 to 10 times, the analysis showed.
October 2021 was a better month in terms of air quality compared to the previous year. Rains on most days across Delhi, Punjab and Haryana coupled with several measures taken by government agencies had shown better results. But for this week, low temperatures and wind speed affected the pollution distribution.
“Probably, there was not enough preparation to check the availability of green fire crackers – it is a lesson for the policy makers and monitoring teams to educate the public about the severe consequences of bad air quality on health. India is losing a work force and facing economic losses due to early deaths caused by poor air quality related diseases,” the analysis said.
Earlier in the day, Delhi’s Environment Minister, Gopal Rai had blamed increased instances of stubble-burning/farm fires from neighbouring states for the pollution level and also claimed that those who burst crackers did it deliberately.