Diwali 2014 saw wins and losses with city pollution levels

Pollution levels recorded during Diwali this year were a mixed bag; some cities fared well, while others hit new highs.


This year saw several eco-friendly campaigns for a safe and pollution-free Diwali across many sectors, with flash mobs and street plays being the chosen method of expression for youngsters, community pujas and get-togethers for celebrities, and internet campaigns and articles for others.

But has the sudden rise of environmental consciousness really helped us have a safe Diwali? Some of the statistics reveal that pollution levels this Diwali actually rose in some cities, particularly in Delhi, while others remained more or less the same as last year, still way over permissible, healthy limits.

Children celebrating Diwali in the capital | Pic -  The Daily Mail

Children celebrating Diwali in the Delhi | Pic – The Daily Mail

The capital, which dismissed the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) study that claimed the city to have the worst air pollution in the world, had prepared itself for a week’s severe air quality post Diwali celebrations based on India’s newly launched Air Quality Index (AQI), which will initially track levels of eight major pollutants in cities with a population greater than one million. Delhi’s current population is around 16 million, and it was predicted that its AQI would jump from 220 before Diwali, to 450. A reading around 401 is considered, by the new index, to put healthy people at risk for respiratory problems and affect those already ill.

Thus, despite the ardent campaigns, it was a disheartening report which stated that air pollution in the capital city did rise above permissible limits. While the predictions aimed at pollution levels 4-5 times above the normal level, Delhi’s actual levels were reportedly nearly 9 times that, with RSPM (respirable suspended particulate matter) 531 mg per cubic metre. However, these levels are marginally below Delhi’s recorded pollution last Diwali, with the comparisons tabulated by the Delhi’s Centre for Science and Environment (DPCC) shown in the picture below.

Air pollutants comparison by the year, by DPCC | Pic - Economic Times

Delhi’s air pollutants comparison by the year, by DPCC | Pic – Economic Times

Chennai and Bangalore were next to follow in air pollution levels at 320 mg per cubic metre and 239 mg per cubic metre respectively.

Noise pollution was also monitored by the Central Pollution Control Board at 35 locations in seven cities, of which Chennai recorded the highest levels. Mumbai and Hyderabad were second and third with the overall data, however, providing mixed results in comparison to last year and average levels – some cities beat their levels last year, while others dogged the line.

It is common knowledge that air pollution and noise pollution are not Diwali’s only side effects, with over 100 injuries being reported in the city of Jaipur on Diwali night, and 52 fire breakouts to boot. Delhi’s fire department reported 293 calls on Diwali night, the highest in five years, while in Bangalore, Friday evening alone recorded 58 of around 145 total eye injuries this Diwali season.


  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Currently pursuing an engineering degree from BITS Pilani, Goa, Sanjana is a Chennai-born girl settled in Mumbai, and writes for The Alternative in a humble attempt to fulfill the stereotype of being a frustrated engineer. more

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  ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Currently pursuing an engineering degree from BITS Pilani, Goa, Sanjana is a Chennai-born girl settled in Mumbai, and writes for The Alternative in a humble attempt to fulfill the stereotype of being a frustrated engineer. more

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