New Delhi city officials were forced to close schools and ban construction work due to ‘severe’ smog that engulfed India’s capital.
Air quality has long been a major concern for India’s capital, particularly during the winter season, when the city gets covered with thick smog, limiting visibility and exposing residents to various health hazards.
As new winter season arrives in India, another air pollution crisis gripped the densely populated city of some 35 million, with smog density remaining in the ‘severe’ category for the second day in a row.
New Delhi registered an air quality index (AQI) of 466, according to the Central Pollution Control Board on Friday morning. An AQI above 400 is considered ‘severe’. It can affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases, India’s pollution board has warned.
Today’s ‘severe’ readings were recorded for the second day in a row, after the air quality index (AQI) hit dangerous levels for the first time this winter season yesterday.
As air quality plummeted in several parts of Delhi on Thursday, the state’s chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said all primary schools would remain closed for the next two days. Meanwhile, the Commission for Air Quality Management has banned non-essential construction activities and imposed restrictions on certain categories of vehicles in Delhi as part of its action plan to tackle the situation. Those found operating the ‘banned’ vehicles in affected areas of the city would be slapped with a hefty fine.
Earlier today, monitoring firm IQAir reported that levels of the most dangerous air particles, PM2.5, which can enter the bloodstream, were almost 35 times the daily maximum recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Indian media has attributed New Delhi’s rising pollution levels to “low wind speed” and “intrusion of smoke from stubble burning.” Indian farmers typically torch stubble, the agricultural waste left over from the October harvest, at this time of the year.
Severe air pollution crisis also comes in the lead-up to the Indian festival of Diwali, where revelers light lamps and detonate firecrackers. This year, however, the New Delhi government has banned firecrackers with the aim of keeping pollution levels in check. The ban includes the manufacturing, storage, detonation, and sale of all types of firecrackers, including green firecrackers, until January 1, 2024.
New Delhi is officially the most-polluted mega-city in the world; pollution levels are 25 times above WHO guidelines, according to a study conducted earlier this year. The research warned that Indian capital city residents’ lives may be cut short by 12 years due to poor air quality.
The research also identified India as the country facing “the greatest health burden” as a result of air pollution due to the large number of people affected by its high particulate pollution concentrations.
SOURCE: Toxic Smog Shuts Down New Delhi