Diwali Pollution Lowest Since ’14
Diwali or Deepavali is the Hindu festival of lights celebrated every year in the autumn in the northern hemisphere. It is an official holiday in Fiji, Guyana, Nepal, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Myanmar, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.
One of the most popular festivals of Hinduism, it spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance, and hope over despair. Its celebration includes millions of lights on housetops, outside doors and windows, around temples and other buildings in the communities and countries where it is observed.
The festival preparations and rituals typically extend over a five-day period, but the main festival night of Diwali coincides with the dark night of the Hindu Lunisolar month Kartika in Bikram Sambat calendar, on the 15th of the month. In the Gregorian calendar, Diwali night falls between mid-October and mid-November.
Before Diwali , people clean, renovate, and decorate their homes and offices. On Diwali night, people dress up in their best outfits, light up diyas (lamps and candles) inside and outside their home, participate in family puja (prayers) typically to Lakshmi – goddess of fertility and prosperity. After puja, fireworks follow, then a family feast including mithai (sweets), and an exchange of gifts between family members and close friends. Diwali also marks a major shopping period in nations where it is celebrated.
Diwali is a festival all Indians look forward to, every year. The day it is celebrated keeps varying every year according to the Hindu lunar calendar. It is all about lit clay lamps, sweets and family reunion. Being the “Festival of Lights”, most humans misconstrue that Diwali is celebrated to adore watching the fireworks. Fireworks are the last thing our dear planet wants. The emission that fireworks release is beyond words.
India from space while Diwali
Gratefully, the Supreme Court of India released an order stating that firecrackers are to be banned for sale on a region-wide level. This fortunately lowered the emissions to about 40% compared to previous years.
A central government air quality monitoring agency, SAFAR (System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research) conducted a study and concluded that, as a whole, the Diwali period (October 18-22) was the cleanest since 2014. The presence of particulates did shoot up a day post Diwali, but the dispersion of the particulates was rather rapid and the air quality attained the pre-Diwali level within three days. SAFAR based their findings on air quality, sources of emissions and meteorological conditions.
The emissions from fireworks in the year 2016 were much higher and thus the dip in the emission level this year was highly significant. That is, the air quality was as poor as 50 per cent on the Diwali night and gradually decreased to about 25 per cent. But surprisingly, two days after Diwali, the air quality became worse (about 45 per cent). If less firecrackers were burnt this year, why would the air quality stoop so low the next night?
The amount of PM2.5, an ultrafine particulate measuring less than 20 times the width of a human hair, recorded by SAFAR during the period went like this: October 18 – 136, October 19 – 174, October 20 – 407, October 21 – 203 and October 22 – 139 micrograms per cubic metre (ug/m3). The 24- hour safe standard is 60 (ug/m3).
The director of SAFAR said that “incredible” amount of fireworks, despite the relative reduction, on Diwali night led to trapping of smoke in the air which led to a rapid build-up of pollutants, especially between midnight and 4 am on October 20, aided by a fall in temperature and lowering of mixing height (where air and suspended particulates mix).
“Emissions slow down local wind movement as air becomes heavy. It’s like the heaviness in air one feels in a room when the number of occupants goes up, say from five to 20. But subsequently, the air cleaned up faster this time due to warmer temperature and dry conditions.
The ban on crackers certainly had an impact. The days that preceded and followed Diwali saw restraint from people. Usually, crackers are set off before and after the actual night of festivities as well. The real impact could be seen on October 20,”
Beig, the project director of SAFAR told PTI
But let’s face the facts. Diwali fireworks, the 4th of July fireworks, Chinese New Year fireworks, all such celebrations need to be kept in check. We need to focus such problems on a global level. Some might say that these festivities only contribute 0.01 % of emissions in the global level.
But as we all know it…
…Little drops make the river.