In Chandigarh, air quality this Diwali was poorest in over 5 years - Hindustan Times
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In Chandigarh, air quality this Diwali was poorest in over 5 years

By, Chandigarh
Nov 14, 2023 04:34 PM IST

AQI shot up to 453 at 10 pm; pollution experts blame residents’ failure to use only green crackers and adhere to two-hour cracker bursting window

Air quality this Diwali was the poorest in the past five years, as per data collected by the Chandigarh Pollution Control Committee (CPCC).

Amid bursting of crackers at 10 pm on Sunday, Air Quality Index (AQI) at the Sector 53 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station shot up to a worrisome 453, considered “severe” as per the Central Pollution Control Board. (Keshav Singh/HT)
Amid bursting of crackers at 10 pm on Sunday, Air Quality Index (AQI) at the Sector 53 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station shot up to a worrisome 453, considered “severe” as per the Central Pollution Control Board. (Keshav Singh/HT)

Scientists have attributed this to civil failure to comply with the use of only green crackers and the 8 pm-to-10 pm cracker-bursting window imposed by the administration in the city.

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Amid bursting of crackers at 10 pm on Sunday, Air Quality Index (AQI) at the Sector 53 Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Station shot up to a worrisome 453, considered “severe” as per the Central Pollution Control Board. This marked the first time that AQI crossed the 400 mark in the city since 2019.

Even at the observatories in Sector 22; IMTECH, Sector 39; and Punjab Engineering College (PEC), Sector 12, the AQI was “very poor” at 392, 360 and 301, respectively.

At the Sector 25 station, the AQI was “poor” at 267, while the Sector 17 station logged the lowest reading of 138, which is considered “moderate”.

As cracker bursting ceased past midnight, the AQI values started dropping around 3 am on Monday owing to winds that were dispersing the pollutants. However, even 24 hours after the official time to start bursting crackers, AQI was still “poor” in most parts of the city.

At 8 pm, the 24-hour average AQI was 264 in Sector 22 and 250 in Sector 53, while it went down to “moderate” at 193 in Sector 25. In Sector 6, Panchkula, it was 225.

With clear skies, the AQI is expected to remain in the same brackets on Tuesday as well.

PM 2.5 chief pollutant

The chief pollutant at most stations was particulate matter (PM) 2.5. Released mostly by crackers and vehicular traffic, PM 2.5 is among the most dangerous pollutants, as per experts. Due to its relatively smaller size, it gets directly absorbed in the bloodstream upon breathing and can damage the respiratory system.

Taking stock of the situation, UT environment director TC Nautiyal agreed that this Diwali the air became much worse than previous years. “In 2022, Diwali fell in October during favourable weather conditions, so there was lesser pollution. This year, the temperature had already started dropping and combined with stubble burning cases in Punjab and Haryana, the AQI became significantly worse,” he said.

Nautiyal added that despite their efforts to educate youngsters, crackers continued to be let off late into the night.

Noise pollution also soared this year

Higher noise levels were also reported around residential areas this year. It was highest in Sector 22, where noise level went up to 79.2 decibels between 9 pm and 10 pm.

Last year, it was 76.9 decibels, while the highest noise level recorded in the city on Diwali was in 2019, when it had risen to 79.8 decibels in Sector 22.

Noise levels were a bit lower in Sector 39, Sector 12 and Sector 25. Interestingly for Sector 17, the noise levels on Diwali were lower than an average evening, primarily due to reduction in traffic.

Nautiyal said the rise in noise in residential areas was directly related to the higher number of crackers burst this year and also explained why the AQI dived to worst in over five years.

PCR gets 75 complaints for cracker-bursting nuisance

The Police Control Room (PCR) received 75 calls regarding cracker bursting nuisance, higher than 51 in 2022.

In all, the PCR received 1,070 phone calls on Diwali night. Police vehicles were despatched to 445 spots, including where the cracker-bursting nuisance cases were reported. Besides, 35 calls reported nuisance, 23 fire incidents, 21 accidents, 155 quarrels and 136 miscellaneous issues.

Fire tenders were sent to 23 spots and ambulances to 65 spots.

Fire at showroom in Bapu Dham Colony

A fire was reported from a three-storey clothes showroom in Bapu Dham Colony around 8 pm. The cause behind the fire remains unknown. As per police, the showroom owner had left home after Diwali puja, when the fire broke out.

Night temp hits lowest of season

While the city celebrated Diwali, the city’s minimum temperature went down from 12.4°C to 12.3°C, the lowest this season as per the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Normal for this time of the year, it is likely to stay in the same ballpark in the coming days as clear weather continues.

On the other hand, the maximum temperature went up from 27.5°C on Sunday to 28°C on Monday.

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