Delhi, the capital of India, breaking pollution records at dangerous levels


Ashu Yadav

Taking a photo of pollution in Delhi

Ashu Yadav, Reporter

Delhi, the capital of India is breaking all the records and reached at a dangerous level of pollution to the extent that the city authorities had to declare public health emergency, closing schools, halting construction, diverting planes and instituting new traffic controls limiting the number of cars on the road.

Delhi has been ranked the world’s most polluted city.

Air quality of Delhi is generally Moderate (101-200) level between January to September, but drastically increased to very poor (301- 400), severe (401-500) or hazardous (500+) levels during October to December.

According to SAFAR (System of Air Quality and weather forecasting) as of Dec.1, the pervasive pollution in Delhi—46% of the responsibility lies upon the stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana.

Why stubble burning?

Combined mechanical harvesters.

When the mechanical harvesters harvest the crops, they leave behind the stalk of crops which is around 2 feet high from the ground. In order to save their time and money—farmers instead of cutting the remaining stalk, set fire to the whole farm so that they can grow the new crops as soon as possible.

Stubble burning is not the only reason behind the air pollution in Delhi other contributing factors are transportation emissions, industry and power generation as well as construction dust.

Some of the worst pollution this year also occurred during Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, celebrated by lighting the lamps and setting off the fireworks.

The Delhi government announced that it would distribute five million anti- pollution masks.

Delhi will be the only city in the world to distribute masks at this level, if successful.

The city has also announced a $50 million-dollar budget for communications activity to raise awareness among citizens.

Some steps have been taken by the authorities of Delhi to tackle the air pollution in city by enhancing parking fees by four times in order to discourage people from taking out their cars and reduce vehicle emission, ban on entry of trucks, ban on civil construction and strict compliance of graded response action plan, National Green tribunal restricts Industrial activities and bans waste burning.

Air pollution is not just a city or a country specific problem but a worldwide issue.

Other cities across the globe have implemented measures to help combat pollution. The pollution in Beijing, while still considerable—has fallen considerably from past 20 years by having controls on vehicles and coal emissions.

Political innovation and collaboration between regulatory and science communities in Mexico City helped diagnose the metropolitan areas pollution and reduced it beginning in the 90’s.