Air quality worsens in Chennai as city celebrates Bhogi

Air quality worsens in Chennai as city celebrates Bhogi

As residents burnt old clothes and articles outside their houses, the city’s air quality index (AQI) increased to a record high of more than 700, which is considered hazardous. (Photo: Twitter/@sudhamshu)

Residents of this metropolis woke up to a hazy morning on Tuesday as a thick blanket of smog covered the city's skies owing to bonfires on the occasion of Bhogi, the last day of Tamil month of Margazhi.

As residents burnt old clothes and articles outside their houses, the city’s air quality index (AQI) increased to a record high of more than 700, which is considered hazardous. Even as the day progressed, the AQI remained worse leading to residents complaining of burning sensation in their eyes.

The smog also resulted in a delay in flight operations at the Chennai Airport with two aircraft being diverted to Bengaluru and one getting delayed. Vehicular traffic on highways across the state were affected due to Bhogi bonfire and an accident was reported from the Chennai-Bengaluru highway resulting in the death of one person.

Bhogi is the beginning of the harvest festival of Pongal which is celebrated on the first day of Tamil month of Thai that falls on Wednesday. The AQI in Chennai worsens every year on the Bhogi day owing to the lighting of the bonfire.

On Tuesday morning, the AQI in Manali in north Chennai, home to several industries and thermal power plants, stood at 795, which is considered hazardous. The AQI near the US Consulate in the heart of the city wasn’t any better either as it stood at 722, which is also hazardous.

"Chennai tops the World Ranking of having the most polluted air as of today. At one point, the PM 2.5 of Manali touched 795 while US Consulate touched 722. As the day goes on, the Air Quality is expected to improve slowly. The lack of winds is one reason why the suspended particles are still hanging around," independent weather blogger Pradeep John said.

Several residents also took to Twitter and Facebook to post pictures of a smoggy morning in Chennai. "People with asthma are finding it difficult to breathe. And not able to see any vehicles on the road as it is so smoggy in Chennai," a Twitter user wrote.

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