Delhi’s pollution at ‘alarming’ levels even before Diwali

New Delhi : Pollution levels have reached “alarming” levels in Delhi even before Diwali and could touch “scary” heights after the festival on Wednesday, an environment watchdog said on Tuesday.

Diwali, the festival of lights, has been increasingly adding tonnes of toxic smoke to the city’s air in recent years because of the extensive use of firecrackers, leading to major health issues.

This year, the pollution levels could cross previous levels, experts warned.

One reason for this is crop burning, widespread construction activity and carbon emissions from outdated trucks and vehicles.

When one monitors the particulate matter in Delhi’s air, which is filled with noxious pollutants, on any average day it is at least three times the prescribed normal levels with smog.

This rises to greater heights during winter.

Vikrant Tongad, an environmentalist working with the Delhi-based Social Action for Forest and Environment, told IANS: “The rise in pollution levels after Diwali has been three-to-four times the normal levels. But it’s alarming to see the rise even before Diwali.”

At this rate, Tongad said the levels could touch “scary” heights when the festival gets over.

Over the past few weeks, the country’s northern belt — Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh — have witnessed hazy skies owing to the acres of crops set ablaze.

“What Delhi is facing even before Diwali has a great affect from these burnt crops,” Tongad said.

Echoing similar views, a scientist at the ‘Air Lab’ of the Delhi government’s Delhi Pollution Control Committee, M.P. George, said Diwali makes a fair bit of contribution to air pollution in the city.

“The pre-Diwali air pollution levels could be associated with the crop fires which show their impact on Delhi. Diwali adds to the growing city’s pollution,” George told IANS.

The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) of the ministry of earth sciences prescribes the PM 2.5 level — Particulate Matter with a diameter smaller than 2 1/2 microns, where a micron is one millionth of a meter.

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