Pollution levels have risen significantly following the excessive use of fireworks during Diwali.
Bursting of firecrackers added to the air, noise and garbage pollution even as massive awareness drives advocating a noiseless and pollution free festival were conducted in different parts of the country by activists, police and civic administration.
Accusing people of not remembering Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Clean India Mission', a cleaner in Nagpur, Maharashtra, Sarita Yadav, said, "Indian government officials had appealed to the public to refrain from bursting firecrackers, with the health minister calling for a "silent Diwali" in Delhi to control sound levels. If people are enjoying bursting crackers, then they should also take up the responsibility of cleaning up the place."
"If our Prime Minister Narendra Modi can come down to the streets to clean, then why can't the common man? They are not only polluting the environment, they are also polluting the roads and it is only we who need to clean them, no one else comes forward," Yadav added.
Diwali, celebrated every year between the months of October or November, usually causes an increase in the air and noise pollution level as bursting firecrackers has remained a significant tradition of the festival.
Due to fireworks, toxins and harmful compounds like sulphur dioxide, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, manganese, cadmium are released in the air and can lead to adverse impact on lungs, causing numerous respiratory ailments.
The increase in pollutant levels also causes symptoms like eye burns, running nose, and skin allergy and skin rashes.
Meanwhile, condemning the level of pollution that goes up during Diwali and the money wasted on crackers, a resident of Raipur, Satish Srivastava, said, "I feel that children who do not have access to anything should be helped. Those who do not have clothes should be given clothes. Those who do not have food should be given sweets. Instead of wasting so much money on crackers and fireworks, I feel this is the best way to derive enjoyment during this auspicious festival."
The government had already issued a warning before Diwali, which said air quality in New Delhi will deteriorate to "severe" levels this week when Indians set off firecrackers to celebrate the Hindu festival of lights, leaving many at risk of respiratory problems.
The warning, based for the first time on India's newly launched national Air Quality Index, is significant as New Delhi dismissed a World Health Organization (WHO) study in May which found the capital to have the world's worst air pollution.
The study, which covered 1,600 cities, also said that India has 13 of the 20 cities with the worst air quality worldwide.
The city of over 16 million people was to see its air pollution index jump to 450 from 220 currently. A reading above 401 could put the healthy at risk for respiratory problems and seriously affect those already ill, the new index explains.
Pollution levels in Indian cities have often been compared to Chinese counterparts such as Beijing, notorious for the smog that prompted some Anglophone residents to dub it "Greyjing".
However, a delay in the onset of the winter season will result in lower pollution levels this year as warmer temperature helps pollutants disperse faster.
Air pollution killed about seven million people in 2012, making it the world's single biggest environmental health risk, the WHO, a United Nations agency, said in March 2014. (ANI)