As the country celebrates Diwali this week, Delhi’s air pollution levels went 20 times over the prescribed safe limit by the World Health Organisation (WHO). On Monday, a thick black of smog was witnessed in Delhi-NCR region after the levels of the pollutant PM2.5 was at a “hazardous” 644.
According to an ANI report, the Air Quality Index (AQI) around Mandir Marg recorded PM 10 levels at 707 and PM 2.5 at 663, while PM 10 levels were 681 and 676 around Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium, respectively.
On Saturday, the System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) had predicted deterioration of air quality in the city from Monday.”As expected, there is a significant bio-mass pollution in Delhi, which has placed air quality in the very poor category despite moderate surface wind speed,” an official said, reports NDTV.
While the officials expect that the air pollution levels must be slightly better this year due to Supreme Court’s restrictions on firecrackers, the relief may be temporary since stubble-burning is expected to contribute to 24 percent of the city’s air pollution
According to WHO statistics, smog kills more than one million Indians every year and Delhi has the worst air of any major city on the planet. Doctors and public health officials fear that worsening air levels cab aggravate lung infections and breathing disorders.
“Pollution kills. Every year thousands die of pollution-related ailments in Delhi and NCR during the winters when the air is extremely foul. Pollution is a silent killer; it does not directly kill anyone but aggravates existing diseases,” said Dr Randeep Guleria, director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) told Hindustan Times.
Another prominent lung surgeon said children are at the maximum risk as they breathe more rapidly than adults. “A child who is born in Delhi is taking in gulps of bad air which is equivalent to smoking 20 to 25 cigarettes on the first day of his life,” said Arvind Kumar, a prominent Delhi lung surgeon told AFP.
Meanwhile, the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) has urged Delhiites to use public transport for the first 10 days of November. The Delhi Pollution Control Committee has also directed the transport department and traffic police to crack down on polluting vehicles.