Air quality in Delhi plunged to a “severe” level following Diwali celebrations, with pollutants rising a whopping 20 times in certain areas owing to incessant bursting of firecrackers, notwithstanding appeals by authorities.
As per the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), an agency under Ministry of Earth Sciences, the air quality in the capital turned “severe”, a category used to describe the highest level of pollution.
Noise pollution was also on the higher side in most of the areas in the city.
Though the Delhi government claimed the pollution level on the Diwali night was less than last year, experts said it was too early to draw a conclusion.
Areas scattered across the megapolis saw alarming levels of pollution in the night, with Anand Vihar, RK Puram, Mandir Marg and Punjabi Bagh breaching all safety standards, not only in terms of air but also noise.
At Anand Vihar, level of Particulate Matter-10 (PM10) breached the 2,000 microgram per cubic metre around midnight, which is 20 times more than the safe level of 100.
RK Puram recorded the same as 1,333 around 1am.
PM 2.5, finer and more harmful to those susceptible to ailments of the respiratory tract, was at 734 at RK Puram and 619 at Punjabi Bagh around the same time -- as opposed to the permissible limit of 60.
However, a Delhi government official claimed that initial data from six locations of the city showed that Diwali pollution levels were “lesser than last year, though levels were on the higher side than required”.
The morning after, Delhi University area was the polluted spot in the city, with PM 2.5 and PM 10 being recorded as 446 and 439.
SAFAR’s IGI Airport station recorded PM 2.5 at 478 and PM 10 at 439.
According to the National Air Quality Index, air in ‘severe’ category affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases.
Pollution levels have been consistently on the higher side this year due to several factors, including cooler temperature and paddy burning in neighbouring states, according to SAFAR.