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Delhi filed 2,438 pollution complaints in a week, most about construction dust & garbage

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Pollution watchdog CPCB launched multiple complaint portals ahead of Diwali, including an app.

New Delhi: Over half the complaints about pollution registered by Delhiites this Diwali season were resolved by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within days, the watchdog has said.

A week before Diwali, when the smog in Delhi-NCR is known to worsen, the CPCB threw open multiple portals for citizens to register complaints about pollution sources. The body set up dedicated Twitter and Facebook accounts, and introduced an app called Sameer, which also tracks the city’s AQI and displays the status of complaints in one’s neighbourhood.

Started on 1 November, Sameer had already received 474 complaints by the following day, most of which (251, approximately 53 per cent) were about dust generated by construction/demolition activities in the city. Another 38 complaints came via Twitter, four through Facebook, and 20 by email, taking the total to 536.

By 8 November, the CPCB had received 2,438 complaints — 1,981 on Sameer, 231 through Twitter, 40 through Facebook and 186 by email. On 8 November alone, a total of 379 complaints were lodged.

The CPCB says it has resolved 1,367 (56 per cent) of the complaints received so far, issuing 19 challans to the tune of Rs 3.9 lakh.

Most of these complaints pertained to construction activities, followed by garbage burning. 

Also read: Satellite pics show crackers are only tip of the iceberg when it comes to Delhi pollution

A quieter Diwali

The CPCB also released Thursday an official “report on ambient air quality and noise on Deepawali 2018” in the NCR, which showed that the noise pollution this year was lower than the 2017 levels in most residential areas.

Mayur Vihar in east Delhi, which recorded the highest noise pollution, stood out as the sole exception.

However, the air pollution this Diwali was more than that recorded on the festival last year, with the levels of both PM 2.5 and PM 10 showing a spike.

“It can be observed that all the pollutants reported higher values at all the stations if compared with 2017 data for pre-Deepawali day,” the report stated.

While PM 10 was recorded at 438 micrograms/cubic metre last Diwali, it rose to 470 this year. PM 2.5, which stood at 180 last Diwali, reached 322 this year during Diwali.

However, the CPCB explained that the spike may also be driven by the differences in background air quality between October, when Diwali fell last year, and November.

“Meteorology as well as stubble burning makes [sic] huge difference in Delhi air quality in late October and November,” it added, saying the contribution of stubble burning in the overall PM 2.5 concentration during Diwali was around 10 per cent.

This year also recorded the lowest average temperature for Diwali since 2016.

“Significant drop in temperature of about 8ºC, reduced wind speed specially during night were two important factors that might have contributed to delayed dispersion [of pollutants]… because of which higher PM concentration values are reported during night hours,” noted the report.

According to the CPCB, on Diwali, the particulate levels started increasing after 9 pm, and remained quite high from 11 pm to 6 am. “This may be due to unfavourable conditions coupled with pollutants generated from fireworks,” it explained.

A Supreme Court order restricting the bursting of firecrackers – that too, just green ones – to a two-hour window between 8 and 10 pm was widely flouted in NCR.

Meanwhile, the CPCB has warned on its official Twitter handle that shallow daytime fog and haze were expected to prevail till Friday, two days after Diwali.

“Air quality may likely… remain in very poor category from 08.11.2018 to 09.11.2018,” it said. It also noted that PM 2.5 levels will also remain highly concentrated in the period.

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