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Bid to check Patna Diwali air pollution fails

World's 5th-most polluted city saw its air quality worsen to nearly 5 times the prescribed safe limit

By Dipak Mishra in Patna
  • Published 9.11.18, 12:06 AM
  • Updated 9.11.18, 12:06 AM
  • 2 mins read
Fireworks light up the Patna sky on Wednesday night. Picture by Sachin

All efforts to curb air pollution on Diwali went up in smoke on Wednesday in the state capital, which anyway carries the ignominy of being the fifth-most polluted city in the world, and the air quality on Thursday worsened to nearly five times the prescribed safe limit.

Despite the state pollution control board’s advisory limiting the time for bursting of crackers to between 8pm and 10pm and subsequent orders of the district authorities to enforce the advisory, crackers went off till midnight.

The order of using “green crackers” with low noise and air pollution also went up in flames as crackers with deafening bangs were a common occurrence.

“I thought things would be different this year with so many steps announced, but the situation remained the same if not worse,” remarked Kavita Krishna, a homemaker who lives in Patliputra Colony.

Patna senior superintendent of police (SSP) Manu Maharaaj conceded that the orders to restrict crackers till 10 pm were not followed.

“After 10pm, several of our patrol cars visited areas like Patliputra Colony, Kankarbagh and Rajendra Nagar from where regular bursting of crackers were reported even after 10pm,” the SSP said. “The police did stop bursting of crackers at several localities after 10pm, but we did not make any arrests.”

Not surprisingly, the air quality check on Patna carried out by the Centre for Environment and Energy Development(CEED) on Thursday morning showed alarming results. The concentration of PM2.5 in the air increased by 44 per cent compared to the day after Diwali last year (see chart). As winter sets in, the quality of air deteriorates and fireworks including crackers during Diwali aggravate the situation.

“Winters have just started and Patna is witnessing an alarming air quality with three “very poor” and seven “poor” air quality level days in the past 10 days (October 25 to November 3),” said Ankita Jyoti, senior program officer, CEED. “It is not that we are unaware of air pollution. We understand that with winter setting in — when temperature and wind speed reduce — the particulate matter will increase, but still we are not prepared.”

Ramapati Kumar of CEED said: “Anything that reduces the emission levels and improves air quality must be welcomed. We have been using firecrackers to celebrate Diwali but it costs us with massive impact on public health.”

The test results released by the state pollution control board were equally scary.

They showed that the level of particulate matter in the air on Wednesday was 10 times more than normal, and 12 times more than normal on Thursday. The board stated that the increase was due to use of crackers and other environmental factors.

On noise pollution, the board identified Boring Road as the most noisy area and pointed out that excess noise was recorded till midnight.

Doctors had a word of caution for city residents.

“Like previous years, after Diwali I have noticed an increase in number of patients complaining of breathlessness,” said city-based physician Dr Diwakar Tejashwi.

“Air pollution causes lung problems, irritation, watery eyes and itching. People with breathing problems would do well not to go out for morning walks and avoid strenuous activities,” he added.

The state pollution control board had also sought to rope in schools to get students take a pledge to celebrate a green Diwali. But Wednesday proved once again that if people want to breathe poison, no authority can stop them.