New Delhi, Nov 5 (Reuters) – Residents of New Delhi woke up in the morning on the eve of Deepavali, the Hindu festival of light, to breathe in the most dangerous polluted air of the year. Usually, the fireworks broke the barrier.
The air quality in New Delhi is worse than all the world capitals, but sadly the reading on Friday was very bad because people paid the price to celebrate India’s biggest festival loudest and most smoky.
Under the guidance of the Federal Pollution Control Board, the air quality index (AQI) has risen from 500 to 451 – the highest recorded this year – indicating “severe” conditions affecting healthy people.
AQI measures the concentration of PM2.5 toxins in one cubic meter of air. In Delhi, home to nearly 20 million people, PM2.5 averaged 706 micrograms on Friday, while the World Health Organization estimates that anything above 5 micrograms a year is unsafe.
Airborne PM2.5 can cause heart and respiratory diseases such as lung cancer. Moreover, in India, toxic air kills more than one million people every year. read more
“The ban on firecrackers in Delhi does not appear to be successful, which has led to the addition of hazardous pollutants to existing perennial sources,” said Sunil Tahiya, a researcher at the Center for Energy and Clean Air Research (CREA).
Every year, firecrackers are banned by government officials or the Supreme Court of India. But restrictions seem to be enforced.
To make matters worse, Diwali is coming at a time when farmers in Delhi’s neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana are burning the remaining pods after harvest to prepare their fields for the next crop.
According to data from SAFAR’s monitoring body under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, up to 35% of New Delhi’s PM2.5 levels are still fires.
The rare spell of clear skies in October due to intermittent rain and wind helped Delhiites to breathe their clean air for at least four years. read more
But pollution levels in northern India increase during the winter months because low temperatures and low wind speeds can trap air pollutants for a long time.
Ambrish Mittal, a doctor at Max Healthcare Hospital in New Delhi, expressed his frustration with the deteriorating AQI measurements due to a lack of commitment to make the capital more livable.
“It’s scary for people with allergies and asthma. For reasons we will continue to fight and suffer more,” he wrote in a post on Twitter.
It is often accused that Indian governments are not good enough to control pollution as they prioritize economic growth to raise living standards in the world’s second most populous country.
On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow that India would reach net zero carbon emissions by 2070, but some experts believe the target is at least two decades late. read more
Report by Neha Arora and Mayang Bhardwaj; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore
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