Delhi woke up to a hazy, smog-filled morning on Monday with the Air Quality Index shooting to frightening 900 in some areas. Despite the Supreme Court ban, Diwali witnessed widespread use of firecrackers by people of Delhi-NCR. As predicted by the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), Monday morning air was totally unbreathable. At Anand Vihar, PM 2.5 was hovering over 600. Whereas in RK Puram, it was at ‘severe’ level of 524. Major pollutant PM 2.5 was recorded at 500 in 'severe' category in Lodhi Road area, according to the Air Quality Index (AQI) data. In neighbouring Ghaziabad, situation was no better. The city recorded PM 2.5 level of 500+ during early morning hours. In Uttar Pradesh’s Moradabad, the Air Quality Index (AQI) was registered at 340 in 'hazardous' category.
People reported violation of the two-hour window in Malviya Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Kailash Hills, Burari, Jangpura, Shahdara, Laxmi Nagar, Mayur Vihar, Sarita Vihar, Hari Ngar, New Friends Colony, Dwarka among others places. Residents in Noida, Gurgaon and Ghaziabad also reported extensive fireworks much beyond the timeframe.
According to SAFAR, although the air quality was touching severe levels, however, 50 per cent firecrackers were used as compared to an average of Diwali-2017 and 18. Despite alarming levels, SAFAR says the peak level of PM2.5 is likely to be lowest in past 3 years after 2015 as no so calm surfecae winds in Delhi will greatly help in dispersion. Haryana and Punjab fire counts almost doubled from during past 48 hours and increased from 1200 to 2700 as evident from SAFAR-multi-satellite product. The biomass plume transport-level winds are now northwesterly and will have high potential to transport significant biomass plume in next 3 days but the expected moderate surface winds in Delhi will not allow rapid accumulation of pollutants for longer period. The high boundary layer winds (20 kmph ) is likely during tonight and tomorrow morning will influence positively by flushing out the expected high impact of firecracker and biomass emissions to make AQI in the high-end of VERY POOR by late 28th October . Thereafter, winds are expected to be calm and accumulation of biomass related contribution may touch a peak value (~25%) on 29-30h Oct. AQI will continue to remain in very poor but no prolonged extreme pollution event is expected.
While air in Delhi was unbreathable, Mumbai had it easy. Mumbai recorded its cleanest Diwali air in five years, since real-time air quality monitoring began in the city. According to SAFAR project director Gufran Beig, Cyclone Kyarr managed to keep air pollution levels to its lowest for the west coast, and of the four cities where the government air quality monitor records air quality, Pune followed by Mumbai were the cleanest.