Thane: Due to the current administration’s relaxation of festival regulations, residents of Thane had the most polluted Diwali since 2019 with levels of both sound and air pollution significantly higher than in the previous four years.
On Monday, the first day of Diwali, there was a noticeable spike in particulate matter concentrations, which reached as high as 245 g/m3. Both early in the day and late at night, noise levels were also between 80 and 110 decibels; this was due to both firecrackers and DJ music performed by political parties during Diwali musicals held all over the city.
Diwali festivities in Thane have gotten comparably quieter and cleaner in the past two years thanks to numerous pandemic limitations that have been put in place. However, this year, with the majority of people finally celebrating the festival after almost two years, partygoers lost their minds.
“100 ug/mg3 is the permitted repairable suspended particle matter (RSPM) level. Due to the significant increase in the quantity of fireworks that were set off throughout the city on Diwali night, the levels reached as high as 245 ug/mg3. On Monday, the first day of Diwali, the Air Quality Index (AQI), which must be below 100 for clean air, was about 197, according to a TMC officer. The RSPM was measured at 152 ug/mg3 and the AQI was measured at 135 by TMC’s pollution department three days before to Diwali.
Environmentalist Vidyadhar Walavalkar, who lives in Thane, claims that the city’s citizens’ health will be impacted by the rise in particle matter for the next month. It would take a while for the particulate pollution to go away as the temperatures drop, he told HT. There will therefore be a large number of persons complaining of breathing problems, bronchitis, allergies, and colds.
Walavalkar said that the reason for the rise in pollution was “social.” The surge, he added, was observed in upper-class societies and in business and trader groups, particularly on the day of Laxmi Pujan. However, there was no appreciable increase in the bursting of crackers in slums or middle-class societies. “These communities also need to make an effort to raise awareness.”
The TMC’s pollution control officer, Manish Pradhan, highlighted what he thought was a positive aspect of this year’s Diwali. Although it’s true that pollution levels are high, the usage of green crackers, which produce less noise, has increased, according to the report, he added. The cooler weather in the late evening also contributes to the particles settling lower in the atmosphere, which is the cause of the higher AQI.
Mahesh Bedekar, a city-based noise pollution activist who has been tracking noise levels in the city for more than ten years, found an intriguing discovery: noise levels in 2018–19, prior to the implementation of Covid, were lower due to self-regulation. “The levels were down in Covid clearly,” he stated. “However, this year’s celebration lacked the self-control and understanding of the pre-Covid era, with crackers being set off till the stroke of midnight. Our society needs to think about this. There needs to be some self-regulation even if the government does not impose any limitations. We shall soon be travelling the Delhi route if the current situation persists.