Deepavali turns into a smoke fest

Statistics released by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) a day after Deepavali reveal that pollution levels, recorded in terms of particulate matter, were nearly 10 times higher than before the festival in certain parts of the city. Many residents complained of allergies and some with pre-existing respiratory conditions even found it difficult to breathe due to the smoke mixing with the seasonal fog.

Particulate matter (dust particles) of 10 microns in diameter or less (PM10) touched 777 microgram per cubic metre of ambient air in the thickly populated neighbourhood of Sowcarpet. The permissible limit for PM10 is 100 microgram/cubic metre for a 24-hour period

Besant Nagar resident G. Ramakrishnan, who had been to Anna Nagar to visit a friend, said it was difficult being on the roads for even a few minutes. “People started coughing even though they were not unwell. Visibility was very poor, especially on Cathedral Road around 9 p.m., where we couldn’t see vehicles on the stretch,” Mr. Ramakrishnan added.

Pollution levels shot up by over 12 times in Triplicane. Nungambakkam recorded 541 microgram/cubic metre of PM10 against the 50 microgram/cubic metre a week before. Even Besant Nagar that usually conforms to standards touched 387 microgram/cubic metre.

T. Nagar resident R. Anuradha said her home was filled with smoke. “I could not see clearly. Luckily, I did not get the allergic reaction I usually suffer from,” she said.

The TNPCB said high values of PM10 were recorded due to the lack of dispersion of the polluting particulate matter. There was no wind to carry away the dust particles. However, gaseous pollutants sulphur dioxide and nitrogen oxide were well within prescribed standards. Ambient noise level ranged from 68 to 80 decibels crossing the permissible limit of 45 to 55 decibels for residential and 55 to 65 decibels for commercial areas.

Fewer fire calls

Compared to previous years, the number of calls received by the Fire and Rescue Services were very less. Two thatched roofs were partially gutted in Nolambur and Anna Nagar as sparks from fire crackers fell on them.

K. Rajesh Khanna, District Fire officer, Central Chennai, said, “On Tuesday, we received seven calls and it rose to 46 on Wednesday. Another 20 calls were received on Thursday.”

(With inputs from

R. Sivaraman)

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