The Southern city of Chennai, despite being on the coastal belt, broke all records on the day of Diwali, with suspended particulate matter levels exceeding those in Delhi. The city witnessed an unusual spike in the PM 2.5 levels owing to a toxic mix of emissions from vehicles, garbage burning, power plants in Ennore and the smoke from the fireworks. The particulate matter levels peaked at 1000 plus, which is equivalent to 18 times the Indian safety limits. The peaking levels along with the humidity made it difficult for the pollution to disperse, leaving the city in a state of red alert.
Bengaluru, once the garden city, is today a city with unmanageable traffic and the resultant air pollution. Waste burning and badly-managed roadworks have had an effect on the city’s air for a while now. However, in comparison to most metros, Bengaluru despite its bold display of fireworks on Diwali, seemed to have recorded relatively good air quality. The pollution charts did peak for a brief period across the city and were above the safety norms but continued to remain better than others. One of the reasons for this could also be the persistent and incessant rains the city has been witnessing over the last few weeks.
The air quality in Delhi began to peak after October 13, with the Air Quality Index dipping from poor to very poor levels. The Graded Responsibility Action Plan, introduced last winter, was to be implemented along with the Supreme Courtís ban on sale of fireworks. In addition, there was a blanket ban on the use of all diesel generator sets and the Badarpur power plant was closed. Despite these measures, on the night of the October 19, most stations in the city touched 999 micrograms per cubic metre, more than 16 times the Indian Safety Standards and close to 40 times the World Health Organisation safety limits. The first three photos below on the morning of October 20 show that the smog had refused to lift its veil, leaving the residents of the city with a sense of hopelessness.
The quintessential yellow taxis make Kolkata one of the most polluted parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain. Despite the scale of its population, the city has only one online monitoring station to monitor air pollution. According to data collected by the Central†Pollution†Control Board,†Kolkata, along with Delhi, is among the worst affected Indian cities when it comes to†air pollution. The city did experience its share of pollution on the Diwali night, however the lack of air quality monitoring information makes it hard to quantify the extent of pollution in the city.