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Govts, society failed in tackling pollution from firecrackers: Environment experts

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Press Trust of India New Delhi
With the national capital recording the season's worst air quality post Diwali celebrations on Monday, environment experts said this time too the governments as well as the society failed to tackle pollution from bursting of firecrackers.
Delhi's air quality index plummeted to "very poor", the worst-recorded level this season, on Monday with a large number of revellers brazenly flouting the Supreme Court-enforced two-hour limit for bursting crackers this Diwali.
Expressing disappointment, environmentalists said despite clear warnings by authorities, Delhi again woke up to a blanket of post-Diwali smog.
"This Diwali has proved that governments and we, as a society, both have failed in tackling the pollution from firecrackers, despite all of us trying to make everyone believe that this Diwali will be different. The primary reason behind this failure may be that it was merely an act of tokenism," said Avinash Chanchal of NGO Greenpeace India.
Sharing a similar opinion on the failure of authorities and society in ensuring better air this time, environmentalist Chandra Bhushan said, "Both governments and society have failed. There was clear prediction from SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) regarding the stagnate meteorological conditions post Diwali. There was a clear enough warning for everyone to get their act together."

Experts also said that firecrackers and stubble burning in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and parts of western Uttar Pradesh as episodic events added to the already high pollution levels in the region.
"These episodic events of firecracker bursting and stubble burning definitely make the air worse for breathing, but other permanent and regional sources such as pollution from transport, industries and power plants is present all around the year and all of these needs to be paid attention to and acted upon urgently," Chanchal said.
Delhi has been witnessing its worst smog post Diwali for the past few years, but all the evidence suggests that firecrackers alone could not be attributed to its persistence. Diwali only causes an episodic spike, he added.
Chanchal called for a stricter regulatory action and awareness campaigns.
"There are other more significant sources that are responsible for collectively deteriorating air quality. If the Governments are committed and serious towards protecting and safeguarding public health from air pollution, then we need stricter regulatory action, better designed and implemented awareness campaigns to enforce existing plans.
"We should give up on the practice of letting the polluters pollute and be okay with it. One such example would be to penalise and stop the operation of all such polluting power plants which did not even comply with revised timeline of 2019 (revised from earlier timeline of 2017 December) for retrofitting their pollution control devices as per emission standard notification of 2015 for coal based power plants. This might give us a little respite from hazardous air pollution in coming months" he said.

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First Published: Oct 28 2019 | 8:45 PM IST

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