As New Delhi remained shrouded in toxic smog yesterday, the Supreme Court censured the federal government for its inaction and sought remedial action.
Cooler temperatures and lighter wind trapped heavy smog over the Indian capital, pushing pollution to “severe” levels in many places with no immediate relief in sight, government agencies said.
“The whole of North India is suffering and not much has been done by the government,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice S A Bobde said.
The overall air quality index (AQI) in Delhi was 494, according to the monitoring agency SAFAR.
The index measures the levels of airborne PM 2.5 - particles that can reach deep into the lungs.
Anything above 60 is considered unhealthy.
With the cool season setting in, the city was likely to suffer for weeks.
“Now that it is getting colder, air is not rising high enough to disperse pollutants. The whole trapping is happening close to the ground,” said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, an executive director at Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation.
The Central Pollution Control Board said pollution levels had touched 500 in some parts of the city, meaning danger for healthy people, not just those suffering from existing conditions.
Delhi’s smog could get even worse, SAFAR said, as farmers burning stubble in areas around the city have been generating clouds of acrid smoke.
“No sudden recovery is expected under this condition at least for the next two days and AQI is likely to deteriorate further,” it said.
The city government is restricting private cars until November 15 with an “odd-even” system based on licence plates, but Roy Chowdhury was not optimistic it would help much, given the weather.
“Emergency measures cannot clear the air up when there is no wind to blow pollution away. It is a day-to-day battle right now,” she said.
Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government could extend the “odd-even” scheme, if required.
He also said the image India was building before the world was also not good.
Kejriwal said when German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Delhi last month, there was smog all around.
“Delhi is the national capital and if there is so much smog, what kind of message is it giving to the world? When Merkel was here, there was smog all around. What kind of message it will give?” Kejriwal said.
Later, he urged the opposition to support the odd-even scheme.
In a tweet in Hindi, he said: “I urge the opposition, don’t oppose the odd-even scheme. The pollution has increased. The city is demanding odd-even. The opposition should support the public.”
Research released this year said the toxic smog across northern India cuts short the lives of around 1mn people each year.
India has 14 of the world’s 15 most polluted cities, according to the WHO.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Violent protests rage for fourth day over citizenship law
PM chairs first National Ganga Council meeting
Violent protests rage in India for fourth day over citizenship law
Anger at citizenship law continues to grow
Rahul rules out apology for ‘rape’ remark
Clashes erupt in Delhi over citizenship law; Japan PM cancels visit
Two killed as protests rock Assam over Citizenship Bill
Contentious Citizenship Bill cleared amid violent protests
India's parliament passes citizenship law, protests flare