Air pollution levels in Delhi on Tuesday and Wednesday — on Dussehra and a day after — was lower compared to the last two years, Delhi government data showed.
On Tuesday evening, between 7pm and 12am the levels of PM 2.5 hovered between 100 and 200 micrograms per cubic metre. PM 2.5 is fine particles that have a diameter of 2.5 micrometers or less.
At 10pm on Tuesday, PM 2.5 levels in RK Puram was 110 micrograms per cubic meters. At Civil Lines, the levels stood at 100 micrograms per cubic meters. The Punjabi Bagh observatory recorded PM 2.5 levels at 164 micrograms per cubic metres.
Last week, the PM 2.5 levels stayed between 90 and 120 micrograms per cubic metres.
The reading, though higher than the acceptable levels of 60 micrograms per cubic meters, was much lower when compared to last year.
In 2015, after the effigy burning, PM 2.5 levels were recorded between 250 and 400 micrograms per cubic metre. Last year, RK Puram had recorded PM 2.5 levels at 235 micrograms per cubic meters and Punjabi Bagh recorded 320 micrograms per cubic meters.
PM 10 (particulate matter finer than 10 micrometers or less) hovered between 200 and 350 micrograms per cubic meters. The acceptable level of PM 10 is 100 micrograms per cubic meters or less.
Delhi government officials said that the recommendation by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to involve resident welfare associations (RWAs) had borne fruits. The green tribunal recommendation asked RWAs to collaborate and have common effigy burnings and also to use fewer umber of firecrackers inside them.
“There has been better awareness among neighbourhoods with every passing year. Since there have been more talks around the alarming pollution levels, people have been more alert and responsible,” said a senior government official.
He said that this time many localities also resorted to eco-friendly ways of celebrating the festival. In east Delhi’s Mayur Vihar phase-II, for example, residents tried a new method. They allowed electricity to pass through the effigies and ignite them. This caused zero emissions, said the official.
Air pollution experts, however, said that plentiful monsoon this year was a major reason for considerably lower pollution levels.
“The monsoon brought more rains this year and because of this reason October has had more number of ‘good’ days in terms of air quality. It is too early to gauge pollution and discuss pollution levels. Dussehra festivities are sporadic and scattered. The real test will be after Diwali,” said a System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) official.