Pollution Spikes After Diwali: Fireworks Order Backfires?

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The Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 999 in Delhi's Anand Vihar and around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, and at 459 in the Chanakyapuri area around the United States embassy - all under the "Hazardous" category, ANI reported. Yet, reports suggest that Indians really do care more about annoying their neighbours, frightening animals, and literally blowing up money in the guise of having a good time, over life's more simple pleasures - like breathing.

Officials also banned diesel-run trucks from entering the city until the end of the week in order to control the pollution levels.

Also, the apex court had banned the sale of traditional crackers and allowed only "green crackers" in Delhi-NCR, but there was no clarity as to how many people could procure these, or the ones not containing the polluting barium salts. While decibel levels were monitored on November 1, 7 and 9, the monitoring of ambient air quality levels is being done since October 31 and will continue till November 15.

The Delhi Air Quality Index is around 574 at present.

While it is hard to quantify the immediate effect of the ban on firecrackers, residents across the national capital felt the beginning was promising with the neighbourhoods reporting much lesser noise and smoke till about 8 pm.

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The permissible limit for PM2.5 and PM10 is 60 and 80 units by national standards and 25 and 50 units by global standards. However, at several place, people started bursting crackers soon after sunset, and continued well after 10 pm.

"We have registered 14 cases so far against unknown persons in connection with the violation (of the Supreme Court order)", Ludhiana Deputy Commissioner of Police Ashwani Kapoor said Thursday. The situation was similar in parts of the West Bengal capital Kolkata, which too recorded “very poor” AQI levels.

A source in the IITM said that though data for the entire year will have to be analysed, it seems that air quality in the city plunged to "very poor" on November 8 for the first time in 2018. "Wearing a mask, using air filters and staying indoors may help to some extent, but the only solution is to reduce pollution at the source". In recent weeks Delhi doctors have reported an increase in the number of patients with respiratory problems due to a rise in pollution levels from burning crop residue, vehicle exhausts and industrial gases.

A "severe plus emergency" air quality index (AQI) essentially means that even healthy people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air.