More than 300 arrested as New Delhi plunged into toxic Diwali smog


Although Punjab's air quality went from "moderate" on Diwali day to "poor" by night, it has shown an improvement compared to Diwali night previous year when it was reported under "very poor" category. More than 250 cases of burn injuries were reported in the national capital this Diwali. This air will seriously affect those with ailments, according to a SAFAR advisory.

In 2016, Diwali festivities raised pollution levels to their highest in almost two decades - forcing the closure of schools and other emergency measures.

In gross violation of the Supreme Court order, people in several areas of Delhi burst firecrackers until at least midnight, two hours after the 10 pm deadline. Readings above 500 in the index, which measures poisonous gases and toxic particulate matter in the air, are typically associated with serious aggravation of the heart and lungs. And earlier, CPCB had warned that it may only get worse towards Diwali. He said that last year average PM10 was 430µgm/m3 and PM2.5 was 226µgm/m3 whereas this year these are 277µgm/m3 and 126µgm/m3 respectively.

"Only at Anand Vihar and Punjabi Bagh both daytime and night time noise level declined".

Diwali is always one of the worst times of year for air quality, as firework smoke mixes with vehicle exhaust fumes, factory emissions and construction dust.

In 2017, official data showed the PM10 level reached 595 µgm-3 and PM2.5 was 407 µgm-3.

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Two days after Diwali, the air quality across NCR remains in the severe category with an average AQI reading of 466 for PM 10 as well as PM 2.5 levels. The government has said that the authorities are taking measures to curb the air pollution levels including banning trucks from entering the national capital till December.

Many others said the ceaseless bursting of firecrackers on Diwali night in violation of the court directive has highlighted the difficulties faced by government agencies in enforcing orders when laws are routinely flouted and accentuated the "large gap" between the law and the capacity to enforce it.

Twenty three areas in Delhi recorded "severe" air quality while eight recorded "very poor" quality air, according to Central Pollution Control Board.

The court had said police should ensure that there was no sale of banned firecrackers and in case of any violation, the Station House Officer of the area police station would be held liable and this would amount to committing contempt of the court.

India is home to 14 of the 20 most polluted cities in the world (WHO).