The Air quality in the country is fast deteriorating. The air quality in the National Capital Region has deteriorated to such a level that the area has been referred to as a “Gas Chamber”.
Poor air quality across the country prompted the Supreme Court of India to come up with immediate measures to curb rising air pollution due to bursting of crackers. The Supreme Court of India on 31 October 2018, ordered restrictions from partially banning fireworks to setting the time limit on bursting of crackers in the NCR region. The court allowed bursting of crackers only between 8 PM to 10 PM and restricted bursting of conventional firecrackers and allowed only ‘green firecrackers’ to be used on Diwali which are being developed by the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).
The questions arise
- Whether bursting of crackers have any effect on the Air Quality and
- Whether the restrictions put in by the Court effective.
The answer to the second question is an emphatic ‘No’. Although, the citizens were aware of the rising pollution in the NCR region, the festival of Diwali saw large amount of bursting of crackers and violation of the time limit as set by the court. Availability of so-called “Green Crackers” was a mystery for the manufacturers themselves and with only a small window since the order, it can be safely said that almost NONE of the all crackers burst were “Green Crackers”. Personally, the amount of crackers burst was much less than last year. The morning after saw a haze over the entire city with AQI levels above 400 in almost all locations.
The answer to the first question is slightly difficult to answer. “Yes” there is an immediate impact of crackers on the Air Quality. However, how much impact and for how long can only be answered by regular monitoring and identification of other sources of pollution.
The Low Cost air monitors which have been placed in several cities by Environics Trust recorded the air quality on the day of Diwali. Below are some graphs which will help in answering the first question.
Note – All data is considered for an hourly interval starting from 11 AM on 7 November till 10 AM on 8 November (24-hour period)
Monitor 1 – Location Neb Sarai, New Delhi
The monitor is placed outdoors. The AQI numbers can be seen to be rising 7PM onwards and reaches a high of 335 at 9 PM. The values remain high till about 2 PM and then start going down.
Monitor 2 – Neb Sarai, New Delhi
The monitor is placed Indoors. Again, the AQI numbers can be seen to be rising 7PM onwards and reaches a high of 543 at 11 PM. The values remain high till about 1 PM and then decreases.
Monitor 3 – Freedom Fighters Colony, New Delhi
The monitor is placed Indoors. Again, the AQI numbers can be seen to be rising 7PM onwards and reaches a high of 549 at 9 PM. The values remain high till about 1 PM and then decreases.
Monitor 4 – Ravi Shankar Shukla Nagar, Korba
The monitor is placed outdoors. Again, the AQI numbers can be seen to be rising 7PM onwards and reaches a high of 543 at 9 PM. The values remain high till about midnight and then start going down to a regular value around 300.
Monitor 5 – Tatiyaganj, Uttar Pradesh
The monitor is placed outdoors. Again, the AQI numbers can be seen to be rising 6 PM onwards. The maximum value of 775 is recorded on 8 Nov at 7 AM. The AQI remains high through the entire period after 6PM on 7 Nov.
CPCB Monitors Data
Data from four (4) Air monitors installed by Central Pollution Control Board in the Delhi region at Anand Vihar, ITO, Lodhi Road and Siri Fort point to the increase in the air pollution around 7 PM on Diwali day. The air quality index reaches a high of 1516 at ITO at 6 Am on the morning of the 8th.
Further looking at the data, the Air Quality recorded at Neb Sarai seem to be better than that at other locations although even this quality falls in the Severe level.
It can be seen from the graphs above that bursting of crackers definitely have an immediate impact on the air quality especially for the residents nearby. Not only Delhi, but other cities also recorded a rise in AQI values on Diwali day. However, the severity and timeline of this impact is dependent of several factors like the number of crackers, their composition, wind factors and remains a subject of further studies.
Author – Mohit Gupta