Delhi: The city where breathing is hazardous
The United States was astonished to see pictures of the Statue of Liberty in New York covered in a thick veil of smoke brought on by wildfires in neighboring Canada.
However, the famous India Gate is frequently obscured by a heavy haze in Delhi, the capital of India, throughout the winter.
During the Hindu celebration of Diwali, millions of revelers light off fire crackers, which releases pollutants into the air. This smoke is then mixed with smoke from farmers burning agricultural stubble in neighboring states.
This causes the city to be covered in a heavy layer of smog.
When pollution levels reach levels that are almost five times what the World Health Organization deems safe, the air becomes extremely deadly. It is comparable to smoking a carton of cigarettes every day.
You can taste the pollution in your throat, feel it on your skin, and see it on the horizon as the skyline turns a sickening grey-yellow.
Residents are urged to remain indoors, cover their windows and doors, and to wear masks if they venture outside.
Except that it is real, it resembles a scenario from a dystopian book or post-apocalyptic movie.
Delhi’ites, as the locals are known, begin lamenting about stuffy nostrils, burning eyes, and pounding heads.
Hospitals start to overflow with wheezing patients who have breathing problems.
Those with the means rush out to purchase pricey air purifiers. However, they only work in enclosed spaces.
More over 32 million people live in the city and the surrounding suburbs, which together make up India’s national capital region; the bulk of them must travel frequently.
The impoverished who live in the city’s shantytowns and slums, together with the millions of people who work for a daily pay, street sellers, and traffic police officers who work outside, are doomed to breathe the noxious air.
As the weather cools and the evenings grow longer, people light roadside fires to stay warm, which raises pollution levels.
And Delhi residents incessantly check applications that provide a reading of the air quality index because their city consistently ranks first among the “world’s most polluted capitals”.
The concentrations of PM2.5, the airborne, lung-damaging PM2.5 that can exacerbate a variety of medical conditions like cancer and heart difficulties, and PM10, the slightly bigger but still very harmful PM10, are of particular importance.
PM2.5 concentrations under 50 are regarded as “good” and those under 100 as “satisfactory”.
Now that summer has arrived, there have been sporadic days with clear blue sky and surprise downpours.
But according to Safar and other Indian government applications, the PM2.5 concentrations in Delhi on Thursday were still circling about 150.
The utmost the applications can measure is reached on some winter days when they increase to 400 or even surpass 500.
The Central Pollution Control Board website’s Air Quality Index (AQI) for the city is displayed on a smartphone. On October 30, 2022 in New Delhi, pollution levels reached the severe category in the early hours of Sunday.
SOURCE OF IMAGE: GETTY IMAGES
Image caption: During the winter, the city’s Air Quality Index (AQI) levels increase to the severe category.
According to experts, being exposed to such high pollution levels makes people more vulnerable to illnesses of all types, increases the chance of heart attacks, and can harm important organs like the liver and brain.
According to a study conducted by the US research organization Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (Epic) last year, Delhi’s air pollution can cut lives short by nearly ten years.
When conditions become intolerable, schools and colleges are closed, construction projects are put on hold, and diesel-powered trucks are prohibited from entering the city.
Other emergency measures include promoting remote work and limiting the use of personal vehicles.
However, detractors contend that these steps are merely bandaging a gunshot wound.
when a result, Indian Supreme Court judges summon the state and federal governments into court each year when the air becomes foggy, and they question them about their plans to address the issue.
Experts advise taking dramatic efforts to clean the air, but the country’s officials do not prioritize doing so.