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Despite the Supreme Court imposing strict restrictions on the timings and use of firecrackers during Diwali, Delhi and surrounding areas were engulfed in a thick cloud of smoke as people made merry wll beyond the deadlines.

The apex court had allowed bursting of firecrackers from 8 pm to 10 pm only on Diwali and other festivals. It had also allowed manufacture and sale of only “green crackers”, which have a low light and sound emission and less harmful chemicals. But despite the apex court order, there were reports of its violation from many areas long after 10 pm.

The Air Quality Index (AQI) was recorded at 999 in Delhi’s Anand Vihar and around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, and at 459 in the Chanakyapuri area around the US embassy — all under the ‘Hazardous’ category, ANI reported.

Levels of major pollutants PM2.5 and PM10 were at 500 in Lodhi Road area on Wednesday morning, falling under ‘severe’ category.

The court had asked the police to ensure that banned firecrackers were not sold and said in case of any violation, the station house officer (SHO) of the police station concerned would be held personally liable and it would amount to committing contempt of the court.

Violations of the Supreme Court order were reported from almost all across the city and the satellite cities of Noida and Gurgaon.

The police admitted that there were violations, adding that they would take serious legal action against those violating the apex court order.

The online indicators of the pollution monitoring stations in the city indicated “poor” and “very poor” air quality as the volume of ultra-fine particulates PM2.5 and PM10, which enter the respiratory system and manage to reach the bloodstream, sharply rose from around 8 pm on Wednesday.

According to the CPCB data, the 24-hour rolling average of PM2.5 and PM10 were 164 and 294 micrograms per cubic metre respectively.

The SAFAR forecast “bad” air quality Thursday even though partially toxic crackers were burst as compared to 2017. It also said the pollution levels would peak between 11 am and 3 am Wednesday and Thursday.

The situation was similar, if not worse, in the neighbouring areas of Delhi such as Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad, where crackers were burst as usual, raising question marks on the efficacy of the administration in enforcing the apex court’s ban.

A “very poor” AQI essentially means that people may suffer from respiratory illnesses on a prolonged exposure to such air. If the air quality dips further, the AQI will turn “severe”, which may trouble even those with sound health conditions and seriously affect those with ailments.

As many as 209 calls were received by the Delhi Fire Services on Diwali, including one related to a huge fire in a factory at Bawana, officials said.

Of these, 89 calls were related to fire incidents at garbage and dumpyards, while the rest were related to fire incidents involving electric wires, at factories and residential areas, a senior Delhi Fire Services officer said.

The officials said the number of calls related to firecrackers was comparatively low, but there was no decline in the number of calls related to fire incidents.

The Centre, in collaboration with the Delhi government, has launched a 10-day “Clean Air Campaign” from November 1 to 10 to monitor and report polluting activities as well as to ensure quick action.

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