AQI peaks after Diwali as SC order goes up in smoke

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Last year, the city had recorded one of its most polluted days on record since 2015 a day after Diwali (October 20) when AQI levels were 319 (very poor).

An AQI between 0 and 50 is considered "good", 51 and 100 "satisfactory", 101 and 200 "moderate", 201 and 300 "poor", 301 and 400 "very poor", and 401 and 500 "severe".

The apex court had said police should ensure that there was no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the police station of the area would be held liable and this would amount to committing contempt of the court.

In its earlier report SAFAR warned that compared to previous year, even if half the amount of firecrackers were burst this Diwali, the region's air quality was likely to go to up to "emergency" levels for two days with a spike in PM2.5 levels. In the Delhi-NCR region alone, close to five million kg of five crackers were burnt on Diwali night - equal to 1.50 lakh kilos of PM2.5 being added to the air.

The overall AQI Thursday was recorded in the "severe plus emergency" category at 642, according to authorities.

The Supreme Court's order, setting a two-hour window for bursting crackers, was observed more in breach than in practice during the Diwali revelry across the country.

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Violations of the Supreme Court order were reported from nearly all across the city and the satellite cities of Noida and Gurgaon. "The lungs are extremely vulnerable", he says, referring to the sweep of illnesses, from asthma to COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) to structural lung diseases and hypersensitivity pneumonitis, where the lungs become inflamed as an allergic reaction to inhaled dust, fungus, moulds or chemicals.

Reacting to the report by Urban Emissions, Ritwick Dutta, environmental lawyer, said the violation is not unexpected. Smaller towns like Kota and Ajmer fared no better.

The permissible limit for PM2.5 and PM10 is 60 and 80 units by national standards and 25 and 50 units by worldwide standards. For Mumbaikars, it was a noisy Diwali this year.

The U.S. embassy said PM 2.5 levels in its part of central Delhi had soared to 689, indicating emergency conditions, posing a serious health risk.

Several areas showed a spike in air pollution. Legal experts said law enforcement agencies must be made accountable for the breaches that can hurt the ambitious efforts to combat pollution.

Delhi Police spokesman Madhur Verma said data was not immediately available at how many places the police took action against those flouting the Supreme Court directive on Diwali day.