Diwali of 2017 was a different one in some ways. The Supreme court order banning the sale of crackers was an unprecedented one, many raised their eyebrows on this but the general sense prevailing was of the view that the order was a step in the right direction and that it was high time before somebody came to the rescue. The signs of restraint began showing in early October when Delhi government issued stringent warnings against the toxic fireworks and the incessant burning of the residue crops in the neighboring states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh indicating that it may severely affect the air quality of Delhi after Diwali.
The fears were not unfounded and came to a ‘near truth’ the next day to Diwali with Delhi’s pollution monitoring agencies recording a high volume of fine and ultra fine particulate matter, indicating a very poor air quality. The particulate matter that is known to enter the respiratory system and reaching bloodstream was alarmingly high. Real-time air pollution data reached an alarming level at about 7 pm on 19th’s evening. The level of some pollutants recorded as high as 10-12 times making it almost unsafe to breathe in Delhi.
According to CPCB (Central Pollution Control Board), the air quality in national capital region was a bit better than last year. The air quality index, a significant measure of the air quality level, although, indicated a ‘very poor quality’ on Thursday, but was a trifling relief from last year’s ‘severe’ condition of air quality index. According to another weather monitoring agency called SAFAR(System of Air quality and weather forecasting and research) the pollution levels touched its peak between 11 pm and 3 am, with the air quality coming to be termed under ‘poisonous’. Mumbai and Chennai too reported higher levels of air pollution with a deep blanket of dense smog enveloping the two cities. Data released by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board seemed to suggest the pollution levels hitting an all-time high posing serious health hazards in a number of towns and cities of Tamil Nadu. A PML of 10 presented a serious challenge as it soared higher at more than eight times of the prescribed limit.
Even still, the position was way better than 2016, which was the most polluted in last 5 years in the week succeeding Diwali. Even though, fireworks aren’t the only substantial factor responsible for air pollution, they are a major contributor to the environmental deterioration. The Honorable Supreme Court, in its rightful wisdom has offered one way of coming to terms with the degradation of the air quality and waking up to the alarming climatic circumstances, it is now up to us to realize the criticality of the situation and put a step forward in the right direction. A short video snippet of NDTV’s coverage of the air pollution levels in the national capital region in the aftermath of Honorable Supreme Court’s order banning firecrackers in Delhi NCR. #MyRightToBreathe