Firework smog chokes Delhi as India celebrates Diwali

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The AQI this year was over twice that of 2017. Delhi's air quality showed "significant" improvement as compared to Thursday when it went off the charts to the "severe plus emergency" category.

The Supreme Court had earlier allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8pm to 10pm only on Diwali in the Delhi-NCR and the sale of "green crackers" by the licensed vendors but the ruling was smoked up in the air by the Delhiites. It had allowed manufacture and sale of only "green crackers", which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals.

On Wednesday night Delhites largely defied a court order and set off an enormous barrage of smoke-spewing firecrackers to celebrate the major Hindu festival of Diwali, sending pollution levels soaring.

It admitted that the severe deterioration of air quality was due to unfavourable conditions coupled with pollutants generated from firecrackers. The pollution level in the air got decreased by 29% this Diwali while there was 36 per cent and 44 per cent reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 levels respectively.

At Dhirpur, the AQI was 724 at 8:30 am, while in Mathura Road area it dipped to "very poor" category at 625.

The air quality started deteriorating rapidly from 7 pm on Wednesday. There was 36 per cent and 44 per cent reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 levels respectively than the previous year which is a very encouraging trend. Preliminary data revealed that pollution levels had increased noticeably by Thursday night.

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"Only at Anand Vihar and Punjabi Bagh both daytime and night time noise level declined".

The overall air quality index or AQI was 10 times the safe limit - AQI above 500 falls in the "severe-plus emergency" category, according to the government-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research. The government has said that the authorities are taking measures to curb the air pollution levels including banning trucks from entering the national capital till December.

The SAFAR had warned that even if partial toxic firecrackers as compared to past year were burnt, then the air quality would fall in the "severe" category.

In certain places, firecrackers were burnt before and after the set time frame, despite the Supreme Court's order.

The court had asked police to ensure that banned fireworks were not sold and said in case of any violation the commanding officer of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of the court.