New Delhi: Even as air quality in the national capital reached dangerous levels on Thursday owing to incessant fireworks and bursting of crackers, the Delhi government claimed that pollution level on Diwali this year was lower compared last year.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), which observed air quality of the 'Diwali period' of last three days, the city was 'more polluted' than last year. It said the overall levels of PM 2.5 and PM 10 were 258 and 386 micrograms per cubic metre last night.
It identified Palam, Delhi University, Pitampura and Noida as the leading pollution spots in the city with corresponding PM 2.5 readings at 344, 275, 281 and 302 respectively.
SAFAR also said air quality in various areas was 'severe' which means the level of PM 2.5 and PM 10 were above 253, 421 micro gram per cubic metre. The term 'severe' is used to describe the highest level of pollution.
The Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), however, said that pollution level this Diwali was lower when compared to last year.
The data from DPCC, a Delhi government agency, revealed that the maximum average values of SO2, NO2 and PM 2.5 were lower on this Diwali compared to their corresponding values on the same occasion in 2014.
The Ambient Air Quality monitoring was conducted at six Locations -- R.K. Puram, Mandir Marg, Punjabi Bagh, Civil Lines, Anand Vihar and the Indira Gandhi International airport.
The Delhi government attributed the reduction to its anti-firecracker campaign involving Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal among others.
As per Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), the intensity of air pollution on Diwali night was 'less' compared to last year, presumably due to wind movement.
Prior to Diwali, SAFAR had warned that the PM 2.5 levels could reach as high as 429 units, registering a 'critical' quality of air.
It also predicted that the air levels would remain 'poor' for the next three days.