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Punjab’s air quality ‘poor’ on Diwali night but 29 per cent dip in pollution levels from last year

Prof S S Marwaha said that awareness campaign against bursting of crackers launched by the Government and NGOs have started showing the results.

Although Punjab’s air quality went from ‘moderate’ on Diwali day to ‘poor’ by night, it has shown an improvement compared to Diwali night last year when it was reported under ‘very poor’ category. This year the average Air Quality Index (AQI) of Punjab was recorded at 234 against 328 on Diwali night in 2017. The pollution level in the air got decreased by 29% this Diwali while there was 36 per cent and 44 per cent reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 levels respectively.

Jalandhar topped the chart of having most polluted air in Punjab with 294 (poor) AQI on Diwali night till the time as Ludhiana, which had topped the chart with very poor AQI last Diwali, Diwali night AQI data was not available till November 8 evening. Jalandhar’s AQI was just 179 (moderate) last Diwali.

According to the available data from Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB), till 4 pm on November 7 (Diwali day), the air quality of Punjab was Moderate and it was recorded at an average rate of 166 while after few hours the average air quality of Punjab rose to 234 which is an increase of pollution level by 29 per cent on the same day because of the bursting of crackers on Diwali night as well as increasing number of stubble burning cases.

According to the PPCB, the presence of particulate matter per cubic meter in the air leads to categorized various quality zones. As various quality zones are categorized like 0-50 (good), 51-100 satisfactory, 101 to 200 moderate, 201 to 300 poor, 301 to 400 is very poor and 401 to 500 severe.

According to the data, Amritsar’s AQI was 162 till 4:00 pm on Diwali day and it was 208 on Diwali Night. Bathinda and Jalandhar’s AQI was 125 and 205 on Diwali day and it rose to 192 to 294 respectively on Diwali night. Patiala, Khanna and Rupnagar, had recorded 150, 186, and 83 AQI on Diwali day respectively which had gone upto , 264, 208 and 146 on Diwali night. Surprisingly Mandi Gobindgarh’s AQI was 283 during Diwali day and it had come down to 250 on Diwali night .

Ludhiana’s Diwali day AQI was 137 (moderate) but it’s Diwali night AQI was not available at PPCB as well as Central Pollution COntrol Board (CPCB).

Last Diwali Ludhiana topped the chart of most polluted cities of the state. According to the PPCB last year Ludhiana’s AQI was 379 this year, Mandi Gobindgarh’s AQI was recorded at 318, Amritsar’s AQI was recorded at 287 but this year all these cities have shown much less pollution in its air.

Krunesh Garg, member-secretary of PPCB said that as per the data of Continuous Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Stations established at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Khanna, Mandi Gobindgarh and Patiala, the average air quality index of Punjab was 234 and it was 328 in the year 2017, indicating a very encouraging decrease of 29 per cent in AQI hence better quality of air this year than previous years.

Stating these facts as very encouraging, the Chairman of the Board, Prof S S Marwaha said that awareness campaign against bursting of crackers launched by the Government and NGOs have started showing the results. He said that last year average PM10 was 430µgm/m3 and PM2.5 was 226µgm/m3 whereas this year these are 277µgm/m3 and 126µgm/m3 respectively. There was 36 per cent and 44 per cent reduction in PM10 and PM2.5 levels respectively than the previous year which is a very encouraging trend. He attributed it to the school & college students who had come forwarded to say no to cracker bursting.

Meanwhile PPCB records 3,466 incidents of paddy straw burning on Diwali night which three times higher then last Diwali when 1,188 stubble burning cases were recorded.

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