The fire accidents this Diwali registered a 16 percent decline in New Delhi this year, after the Supreme Court restored ban on the sale of firecrackers from October 9 to November 1, with a view to reduce pollution.

Fire Director of Delhi Fire Services G. C. Mishra informed, “Delhi Fire Services received 204 emergency calls this year as compared to 242 calls last year”.

However, Mishra expressed disappointment over citizens’ attitude over the Supreme Court’s ban on the sale of firecrackers, as it was expected that the calls would reduce by 50 percent.

The Fire Director also informed that there was 48 percent reduction in calls from 12:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m., while 40 calls per hour on average were dealt with, between 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 p.m.

“The inference we can draw from it is that people used to burst crackers in the long hours earlier, but after the ban, people had lesser stock which soon got exhausted by midnight,” Mishra said.

There were no major calls and the preparation was adequate in accordance with the calls, because of reduction in number of accidents as well as the addition of 20 fire service vehicles, he informed.

Mishra further urged all to show concern towards pollution before deciding to burst crackers.

Since the ban implemented ten days before the festival was merely on the sale of crackers, people in Delhi did not refrain from bursting crackers despite alarming pollution levels

However, the statistics at several monitoring stations in the capital show a distressing picture. Levels of particulate matter (PM) are over 15 times permissible limits. While the permissible limits for PM 10 is 100 and PM 2.5 is 60 microgram per cubic metre, at India Gate, the PM 2.5 value at 10 am today was off the charts, a very high level of 985 micrograms per cubic metre. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee real-time readings has already put the air in the “severely polluted category”. At Mandir Marg, in the heart of the city, the PM levels were 355 micrograms per cubic metre. At Punjabi Bagh in western Delhi, the PM 10 levels were 1514 micrograms per cubic metre, more than 15 times the permissible limits.