As the COVID-19 cases keep increasing day by day in India, air pollution became an issue of concerns for the states. Thus, to curb the air pollution in Diwali, several states including Rajasthan and Delhi banned firecrackers.
While some states imposed a total ban, others imposed a ban only on “imported” firecrackers. The decision was taken in a bid to protect vulnerable people from the increase of air pollution amid ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
However, despite battling a high level of pollution and a complete ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), people in Delhi-NCR were seen bursting firecrackers on Saturday on the occasion of Diwali.
People were seen bursting firecrackers in various parts of the national capital despite a ban imposed on the sale or use of all kinds of firecrackers in Delhi-NCR till November 30 by the NGT.
Meanwhile, Delhi was engulfed in a blanket of smog post-Diwali with the air quality index in 'severe' and 'very poor quality' at several places on Sunday morning.
The areas around ITO were seen covered in heavy smog and the Air Quality Index (AQI) stood at 461 here, according to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) data. Very poor visibility was observed in areas around Civil Lines, Geeta Colony and ISBT today due to the pollution surge.
The air quality dipped to "severe" at several places across the national capital on Saturday night itself owing to a combination of stubble burning and firecrackers burst during the Diwali celebrations in violation of a ban on the same.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) for PM 2.5 pollutant stood at 481 in Anand Vihar, 444 in IGI Airport area, 457 in ITO, and 414 in Lodhi Road area, all four in the 'severe' category, at 11 pm on Saturday, according to the DPCC data.
Uttar Pradesh government has imposed a ban on the sale or use of firecrackers in NCR - Muzaffarnagar, Agra, Varanasi, Meerut, Hapur, Ghaziabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Moradabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Baghpat, Bulandshahr - till November end to battle high levels of pollution. However, the ban on firecrackers in 13 Uttar Pradesh cities proved ineffectiveas people burst crackers with a vengeance on Diwali night.
The air quality index in Lucknow zoomed to 881 by midnight and settled at 427 on Sunday morning.
In Rajajipuram locality, the AQI was 752 on Sunday morning and Naka Hind, Qaiserbagh and Lalbagh areas recorded AQI at 450 -- all in the 'hazardous' category.
Most people refrained from bursting crackers till about 8 p.m. when police vans were seen patrolling the various areas. However, after 9 p.m., people went berserk bursting firecrackers, even the high decibel ones.
Reports of firecrackers being used despite the ban also come in from cities like Kanpur where AQI was 750 on Sunday morning. Other cities that defied the ban include Meerut, Moradabad and several other cities in western districts.
Altogether 15 people were arrested from different parts of Kolkata for bursting firecrackers on the evening of Kali puja and Diwali on Saturday, violating the Calcutta High Court order, police said.
The high court had last week ordered a blanket ban on the sale and use of fireworks in West Bengal during Kali puja, Diwali, Chhath and other pujas during this festive season to curb pollution amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
(With inputs from ANI)