Delhi's air quality 'severe'; sees improvement from Thursday

Crackers

For representational purposes

Delhi's air quality has again deteriorated to alarming levels in the past three weeks. While the time limit was flouted at many places, police were cracking down on revellers who were bursting crackers beyond the allotted time.

Any reading over 300 is considered hazardous and a danger even to healthy people.

Mumbai Mirror, with the help of activists, surveyed various parts of the city on Diwali night and, even though noise and air pollution levels were not as bad as past year, they were still way above the danger mark. 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.

It warned that the air quality in the region could be bad on Thursday.

Last month, the Supreme Court allowed the use of "green" firecrackers for Diwali, but only for two hours in the evening.

But Modi's ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is more concerned about the impact of weak farm incomes, high fuel prices, and whether job creation has been adequate as issues at the polls.

"For a few moments of enjoyment people are willing to endanger the planet".

With maximum fire counts from stubble burning in neighbouring states - 2,100, which is four times higher than previous year, on Thursday, Delhi and areas around it on Friday were found more polluted than Thursday, a day after Diwali.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior police officer admitted that it was very hard to implement the Supreme Court order.

Delhi's air quality typically worsens in winter, due to pollution from the burning of rice stubble, diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions. Till 11 pm, the Kolkata Police received a total of 50 complaints regarding the bursting of firecrackers, mainly from areas like EM Bypass, Kasba, Patuli, Thakurpukur and Dum Dum, a top police officer told PTI.

"Like previous years, after Diwali I have noticed an increase in number of patients complaining of breathlessness", said city-based physician Dr Diwakar Tejashwi.

The Central Pollution Control Board said the Air Quality Index (AQI), which takes into account other pollutants apart from PM as well, was 423, putting it in the "severe" category.

Surface winds have continued to play a major role, it said, as it was calm (2.1 kmph) on Thursday afternoon, so pollution levels were expected to build-up rapidly due to the stagnation. Other cities of North India are also facing spiked pollution levels.

Last month the World Health Organization said exposure to toxic air indoors and out kills some 600,000 children under the age of 15 each year.

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