How ban on firecrackers may help Delhi breathe easy this Diwali

Supreme Court reinstated its ban on the sale of firecrackers in and around New Delhi ahead of Diwali, to stop a toxic haze from engulfing the region like last year.
According to a report on the composition of firecrackers prepared by the Chest Research Foundation, Pune, firecrackers produce extremely high levels of PM 2.5 over a short period of time.(Mohd Zakir/HT FILE)
According to a report on the composition of firecrackers prepared by the Chest Research Foundation, Pune, firecrackers produce extremely high levels of PM 2.5 over a short period of time.(Mohd Zakir/HT FILE)
Updated on Oct 10, 2017 12:23 PM IST
Copy Link
Hindustan Times | By

The Supreme Court order banning the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR till November 1 might just be the respite the capital needs.

Going by the current conditions, where the air quality has touched ‘very poor’ in many parts of the city, the situation may spiral out of control if firecrackers are set off indiscriminately during Diwali.

“The ban would ensure that the levels of air pollutants do not reach as high a limit as they did last year around Diwali. With meteorological conditions not being favourable for dispersing dust and particulate matter in a short interval, the regulation is a step in the right direction,” said Ajay Mathur, director general of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) said.

Last year, Delhi witnessed its worst smog in 17 years right after Diwali and air quality turned fouler even after the festival night in the following week.

Although experts welcomed the SC order, they also said there is a need for a sustained long term focus on tackling the menace. “The air of Delhi is anyway saturated with pollutants at this time of the season as paddy stubble burning starts and temperature drops. Delhi needs a sustained long solution for tackling this menace,” said Bhure Lal, chairman of the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA).

According to a report on the composition of firecrackers prepared by the Chest Research Foundation, Pune, firecrackers produce extremely high levels of PM 2.5 over a short period of time. The snake tablet variety of cracker produces a peak pollutant level of 64,850ug/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre). The 24-hour prescribed average of PM 2.5, which are ultrafine pollutants measuring 30 times thinner than a human hair, is 60ug/m3.

An IIT Kanpur study has also pointed out that around Diwali, particulate matter levels nearly double from the average level and organic content of PM increases more than twice.

The SC directive might break the Diwali bad air curse.

According to Dipankar Saha, head of Central Pollution Control Board’s air lab, this ban can clean up the air if properly enforced. “This order can bring radical changes. The weather is also good this time. If there is no drastic change in meteorological conditions, Diwali will be a good one this year,” Saha said.

Through a report titled ‘Deepawali Festival Monitoring Report 2016,’ the CPCB revealed how most of Delhi had noise and air pollution problems even on ‘normal days’ but it was seen to spike on Diwali, especially last year.

In 2016, the PM10 level ranged between 203μg/m3 and 318μg/m3 in different parts of the Capital before the festival. The acceptable standards are 100μg/m3. This spiked to over 1,000μg/m3 in areas such as Pitampura and Parivesh Bhavan in east Arjun Nagar on Diwali.

The data shows the situation has been getting worse over the years. In 2014, a normal day’s PM10 levels were recorded between 115μg/m3 and 152μg/m3. This increased from 119μg/m3 to 166μg/m3 in 2015. Similarly, festival day readings in 2014 ranged between 442μg/m3 and 756μg/m3, and 460μg/m3 and 593μg/m3 in 2015.

Environmental activists, however, stressed on citizen’s involvement to make this order a success and make the city less polluted.

“Ban on sale of fireworks was highly required for Delhi but ban on burning them is more important. Today after the court ruling, people were buying fireworks in bulk at Chandni Chowk. We can’t depend on the police to stop the lawbreakers since they have not even seized the banned plastics from shops till now. So it’s up to us to make an educated decision and celebrate the festival of light without hurting others by the poisonous toxic chemicals from fireworks in the air and settling on food,” Verhaen Khanna, the founder of New Delhi Nature Society, said.


    Ritam Halder has been a journalist for nearly a decade and has worked in multiple roles across organisations. He has been a features writer, a digital journalist as well as a desk hand. He now covers environment, water and urban issues in Delhi.

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • A 35-year-old share broker from Bandra was found dead in his car on the Mumbai Nashik Highway. (HT FILE PHOTO)

    Bandra man found dead in car on Mumbai Nashik Highway

    A 35-year-old share broker from Bandra was found dead in Prafull Pawar, resident of Bandra's car that was parked near Kharadi village on the Mumbai-Nashik Highway early on Monday morning. Shahapur police found a Scorpio car at the same spot for two days and upon checking, they found a dead body inside. The officers immediately started an investigation and discovered that the car belonged to resident of Bandra, Prafull Pawar.

  • SPPU officials noted that the ‘Music appreciation course’ focuses on listeners who are curious about how to enjoy music. (HT FILE PHOTO)

    SPPU’s Lalit Kala Kendra starts two certification courses in music

    The centre for performing arts, known as Lalit Kala Kendra at Savitribai Phule Pune University has started two certificate courses in music in collaboration with the cultural centre. A course in Marathi fine music has been started which provides information on the basics of music. The age limit for admission to this course is 15 to 60 years of age. The department has started another certificate course, 'Music appreciation course', on how to enjoy music.

  • Maharashtra Chief Minister Eknath Shinde speaks during a special session of the State Legislative Assembly.

    Petrol & diesel to get cheaper in Maharashtra: CM Eknath Shinde in Assembly

    Hours after establishing a majority in the floor test, Maharashtra chief minister Eknath Shinde on Monday announced relief in petrol and diesel prices in the coming days. Shinde said his government will cut VAT on fuel to provide relief 'to the people of Maharashtra'. Shinde made the announcement during the concluding session of the two-day Assembly. A decision to reduce VAT on fuel will be taken in the state cabinet, Shinde informed the House.

  • The partly-charred and decomposed body of the deceased was recovered by police on Saturday. (File image)

    Man allegedly killed by wife’s relatives for marrying against parents’ wishes

    In a tragic incident, a 25-year-old man was allegedly strangled to death and later set ablaze, by Reddy's wife's relatives for marrying his distant cousin Ravali's without her parents' consent, in Hyderabad, the police said on Sunday. The partly-charred and decomposed body of the deceased, identified as a resident of Kukatpally, S Narayan Reddy, was recovered by police in the forest area of Jinnaram late on Saturday night.

  • More than 15,000 BBMP were said to have taken part in the protests.

    Pourakarmikas call off stir as Bommai promises permanent job within 3 months

    Pourakarmikas, who had been staging an indefinite dharna for better salaries and permanent jobs, on Monday, called off their protest after Karnataka chief minister Basavaraj Bommai directed the municipal administration department to start the process of granting permanent employment status to the civic workers in three months. In a statement released by his team, Bommai also said that “drivers and loaders outside the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) will be brought into direct payment”.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Monday, July 04, 2022