Stubble burning meets Diwali crackers in Punjab, air quality to go up in flames | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Stubble burning meets Diwali crackers in Punjab, air quality to go up in flames

While this may be due to crop residue burning and some pre-Diwali firecrackers, the Pollution Control Board experts even asserted that the quality will deteriorate particularly on the night of Diwali.

punjab Updated: Oct 18, 2017 20:55 IST
Navrajdeep Singh
Last Diwali, the AQI during peak hours of celebrations (8pm to 2am) had reached 497.
Last Diwali, the AQI during peak hours of celebrations (8pm to 2am) had reached 497. (HT File)

On the eve of Diwali on Wednesday, air quality in Punjab hovered close to the ‘very poor’ mark as the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) measured the average Air Quality Index (AQI) at 290 in the last 24 hours. The safe limit is 100. While this may be due to crop residue burning and some pre-Diwali firecrackers, the PPCB experts even asserted that the quality will deteriorate particularly on the night of Diwali.

“The AQI on Diwali night is likely to reach the ‘severe’ level of 500, which has the potential to cause respiratory problems even among otherwise healthy people,” said Kahan Singh Pannu, PPCB chairman. Last Diwali, the AQI during peak hours of celebrations (8pm to 2am) had reached 497.

This time, though, the Punjab and Haryana high court has limited the hours for burning crackers on Diwali day to 6.30-9.30pm in the two states and Chandigarh. Pannu, who wrote to all police chiefs and deputy commissioners to strictly implements the timings, said district administrations have already been sensitised about the deteriorating air quality. “Strict action will be taken against violators,” he said. Also, the PPCB chairman said, district administrations were directed to ensure that the number of licences to be issued for firecracker sales should only be 20% of last year.

Referring to stubble burning, he said it has added to worries and already deteriorated air quality. The PPCB has recorded 1,450 cases of straw burning after farmers ignored repeated warnings to adhere to a ban. “Farmers have already been urged not to burn paddy straw as it first impairs their own right to breathe fresh air before it travel to cities,” Pannu said. Farmers have been saying that they should monetary help and machinery to implement any alternative methods of straw treatment.

What’s AQI?

It measures particulate matter and four harmful gases that pollute the air, and converts the measured pollutant concentrations in a community’s air to a number on a scale of 0 to 500

■ 0-50: Good: Minimal impact on health

■ 51-100: Satisfactory: Minor breathing discomfort to sensitive people

■ 101-200: Moderate: Breathing discomfort to people with diseases of lungs and heart

■ 201-300: Poor: Breathing discomfort to most people on prolonged exposure

■ 301-400: Very Poor: Respiratory illness on prolonged exposure

■ 401-500: Severe: Affects healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing diseases