Quieter, cleaner Diwali: Noise levels drop, ‘good to satisfactory’ air in Pune

PUNE : Not only did the city celebrate a quieter Diwali this year but it was also the cleanest in several years. Data from noise and air quality monitoring sources like Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) and System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) indicate a drop in both decibel levels at various locations on the festive days compared to last year as well as an improvement in quality of air in the city

V M Mothgare, Joint Director, MPCB, told  that not only Pune but across the state the festive period was less noisy compared to last year and cleaner. P K Mirashe, Assistant Secretary (Technical), MPCB, said that continuous rain has been a big factor in bringing down pollution levels. “However, awareness about the polluting effects of firecrackers has also helped bring down the decibel levels,” Mirashe said.

While the main Diwali day (October 27) did see decibel levels shooting up to 87.6 dB (Karve Road), on Bhau Beej (October 29) the decibel levels were as low as 59.2 dB (Shivajinagar). At Mandai, the decibel levels on Diwali was 85.4 dB compared to 87.3 dB on Diwali last year (November 7). At Koregaon Park it was 76.1 dB compared to 79 dB last year. At Vishrantwadi too there was a drop in decibel levels on Diwali: 75.4 dB against 80.3 dB last year.

A total of 18 locations, including Pimpri-Chinchwad, were monitored by MPCB for noise levels on October 26, 27 and 29. At some locations like Laxmi Road, there was a slight rise in noise levels, up to 82.8 db. During last year’s Diwali, it was 80.8 dB. MPCB officials explained that apart from the noise of firecrackers, other factors like traffic noise also had to be accounted for.

“We are still in the process of analysing the data but in the last five to six years it is encouraging that noise levels have not exceeded more than 80 db at various locations not only in Pune but across the state,” Mirashe added.

According to MPCB’s air quality index bulletin, the air quality was within the moderate to satisfactory range. On Diwali, the range was 82, which is satisfactory. According to the air quality index, values between 51 and 100 are labelled as satisfactory quality of air. Last year, the air quality was “moderate” on Diwali at 106. Moderate air quality — between 101 and 200 on the air quality index — can cause breathing discomfort to people with lung and heart diseases, children and elderly people.

Dr Gufran Beig, project director of SAFAR, said that the air quality levels ranged between good and satisfactory during Diwali festivities. “There has been continuous rain before Diwali and it even rained during Diwali. Because of this, all the pollutants were washed away. However, there has also been increased awareness among people about the polluting impact of firecrackers. In the last few years, we have recorded poor and very poor air quality levels during Diwali. This year has been the cleanest Diwali so far,” Dr Beig told The Indian Express.

Dr Sundeep Salvi, Director of the Chest Research Foundation, too pointed out that it has been a relatively quiet Diwali compared to the last couple of years.