Residents of the capital New Delhi are choking, and some localities of the city have been reported to be having air quality five times worse than what has been deemed unsafe by US environmental protection agency. The US environmental watchdog has set the ppm levels of 500 as hazardous, and the capital has an Air Quality Index at 999 on Monday.
Comparing this with the highest AQI levels recorded on Monday Baoding — China’s most polluted city — was 298. Beijing was a pleasant 30 while the next most polluted town in India was Chandrapur which had an AQI level of 824.
Recent research released earlier this year found the air quality exceeding the WHO recommended levels for 80% of those living in urban areas around the world. The thick smog has prompted a quick sale of anti-pollution masks as people flocked to purchase them to allow some semblance of less laboured breathing. The Twitter and social media sites are sizzling with caustic comments from angry residents of the city.
As the city and its residents laboured for a breath of fresh air the government ordered all 5000 schools to close and also decreed a stop of all construction work for the next three days. More desperate measures which include restriction of vehicles on the roads are also in the offing if the situation does not improve.
The festive season of Dusherra and Deepawali contributed to the thick smog. The fall in temperatures and fog is further compounding the problem. The Delhi government is planning to induce showers and other artificial means to force the haze to settle down. However, experts warn that unless something drastic is not done all the measures will be just insufficient to tackle the problem.