Chennai: Chennaites spent a smoggy Deepavali on Wednesday as the city featured among those with the highest air pollution levels in the country.
Even though the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) held the climate responsible for “no dispersion of particulate matter pollutant.”
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The Board released a statement before Deepavali, which advised residents to limit bursting fireworks, due to the absence of strong winds to disperse smoke.
“Weather conditions are not conductive for normal dispersion of smoke and particulate matter in view of possible inversion,” said the statement.
“It was difficult for me to drive back home in the smog. I couldn’t see what was there even a few metres away,”said Neha Sharma, a private sector employee and a resident of Ethiraj Salai.
Environmentalists do not agree that an average particulate matter count of more than seven times the permissible limit is all due to a humid weather.
Environment activist Nityanand Jayaraman said “The data for particulate matter10 (particulate matter of 10 micron diameter – PM10) which is a measure of air pollution shows a steep increase from the 2016 levels. They have gone up by 3 percent to 6 percent.”
“People will burst crackers today as well but it hopefully won’t be as bad as Wednesday.”
The streets of Chennai were covered in a cloud of smoke on Wednesday after 7 PM.
“It was difficult for me to drive back home in the smog. I couldn’t see what was there even a few metres away,” said Neha Sharma, a private sector employee and a resident of Ethiraj Salai.
Sowcarpet registered the highest average PM10 levels, 777 µ gm/m3 of air, on the day of the festival. Last year the semi-residential area had registered 178 µ gm/m3 of air of PM10, the highest that year.
Triplicane showed a rise of 234 percent in PM10 levels from the last year. But the highest rise was recorded in Thiyagaraya Nagar (368%) followed by Sowcarpet (337%) and Besant Nagar (279%).
“During Deepavali day, due to climatic condition, there was no dispersion of particulate matter pollutant. Hence the higher value of PM10 observed,” said a TNPCB statement issued after the festival.
Jayaraman said “The Air Quality Index between 9 pm and 10pm in Teynampet area shot up to 1541, more than 15 times the standard permissible limit in India.”
“That much pollution could make a healthy person sick. People with asthma or breathing trouble could die.”
People are generally admitted with lung and respiratory diseases during the time of Deepavali.
Dr. Sarojini, associated with the Hindu Mission Hospital in Tanbaram, said “Complaints of wheezing, shortness of breath, coughs and asthama attacks the common around this time. We generally give them Deriphyllin injections and provide them with oxygen for relief.”
Rajeswaran Reuben Sankar, an IT professional, said “It was suffocating after a point of time. You could get the pungent smell of the burnt crackers all around.”
“The government might show that the noise pollution was not much but animals in my locality were traumatized just like any other year,” he added