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Kolkata witnessed an alarming rise in pollutants in air with the particulate matter (PM) 2.5 rising by 747 per cent on Wednesday compared to November 1 and PM 10 by 450 per cent on the same dates. This happened despite the Supreme Court regulations to curb air pollution during Diwali and Kali Puja.

The West Bengal Pollution Control Board (WBPCB) website showed that while on November 1, the average PM 2.5 level stood at 36, it shot up to 305 on November 7. The maximum level on November 7 was 500.

Similarly, average PM 10 on November 1 was 38 and on November 7 it was 209, registering a 450 per cent rise.

The condition prevailed on Thursday as well. Till mid-day, the average PM 2.5 in the air was 373 and PM 10 was 269.

Prof Kalyan Rudra, Chairman, WBPCB, however, attributed the alarming rise to a number of factors. Talking to DNA he said, “Other than Diwali, other meteorological factors such as an overcast sky and nearly-nil wind velocity were also responsible. That is why it looks alarming.”

Environmentalists said that the air and sound pollution caused has tremendous adverse effects on animals and birds. “Birds and squirrels come at the window of my bedroom every morning and I feed them. They did not come for the last two days. There are many reasons for the rise in pollution level but Diwali is definitely one of the major ones,” environmentalist Subhas Dutta told DNA. However, he said that thanks to the Supreme Court ruling, media coverage and administrative alertness which induced a fear psychosis among people and many refrained from bursting crackers and that is why the pollution level was lower than what it used to be even a year back.

Doctors said that the high pollution level can cause serious and sometimes fatal ailments. “There is a possibility of causing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), allergic rhinitis, ischaemic changes in the heart are also caused which can lead to heart attacks and cases of acute conjunctivitis also rise during this time. I have already started getting many such cases,” said Dr Arun Chowdhury, a city-based physician and consultant with the ITC.

Police sources said that on Tuesday and Wednesday, about 550 people had been arrested on charges of bursting banned crackers. “There had been over 100 complaints of people bursting illegal sound crackers which were pursued and arrests were made. People who burst crackers outside the permissible time were also arrested and many were arrested for creating trouble in an inebriated state,” said a senior official of Lalbazar, the Kolkata Police headquarters.

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