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Delhi's air pollution declines 30% post-Diwali day, air quality best in five years

Environment min says less incidents of stubble burning reported in Punjab this year

Delhi air quality improves due to increase in wind speed Representational image | Reuters

There was 30 per cent less pollution on Diwali in Delhi as compared to last year and the city recorded its best air quality for the day after the festival in five years, Environment Minister Gopal Rai said on Tuesday.

The air quality index (AQI) stood at 323 on Tuesday (the day after Diwali) as compared to 462 last year, which means the "air pollution declined by over 30 per cent," he said.

The minister said the AQI on the day after Diwali stood at 390 in 2018, 368 in 2019 and 435 in 2020.

"People of Delhi were very thoughtful on Diwali this year and I want to thank them. Today, the pollution level is the lowest in five years," Rai told reporters on the sidelines of an event where he flagged off 150 mobile anti-smog guns.

He said the anti-smog guns will sprinkle water in areas where air pollution is high. Ten such anti-smog guns were launched last year.

The minister said that there has been a decline of 30 per cent in pollution levels as compared to the previous year.

The Delhi government had in September reimposed a complete ban on the production, sale and use of all types of firecrackers till January 1, including on Diwali, a practice it has been following for the last two years.

Rai had last week said that bursting firecrackers on Diwali in Delhi will attract a jail term of up to six months and a fine of Rs 200.

"The AQI of 323 is still worrying and tells us that air pollution will increase amid low temperatures in the coming days," he said.

He further claimed the Punjab government controlled stubble burning in the state without support from the Centre.

"Punjab reported 1,019 incidents of stubble burning on Diwali day (Monday) as compared to 3,032 on Diwali last year.

"Haryana and Uttar Pradesh reported 228 and 123 farm fires respectively, on Diwali last year, and have logged 250 and 215 such incidents this year. This shows farm fires have increased in Haryana and Uttar Pradesh and decreased in Punjab," he said.

Emissions from firecrackers and farm fires have contributed significantly to Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on Diwali over the years.

The share of farm fires in Delhi's PM2.5 pollution was 25 per cent on Diwali in 2021, 32 per cent in 2020 and 19 per cent in 2019.

Since Diwali was observed early in the season this year, moderately warm and windier conditions prevented rapid accumulation of pollutants from firecrackers bursting and reduced the effect of stubble burning, according to experts.

Diwali was celebrated on November 4 in 2021 and on November 14 in 2020 when temperatures were considerably low and winds were calm.

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