Amrinder Singh and Arvind Kejriwal (Flicker/SBS)

A thick cloud of smog has enveloped the Indian capital over the past few days. The city's Air Quality Index (AQI) was over 999 in some parts of the capital - that's almost 30 times the safe limits set by the World Health Organization. While Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has been exhorting his counterpart from Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh, as well as Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar to discuss ways in order to resolve the issue of the capital's dangerously poor air quality. On the other side, the Punjab CM has reiterated that the matter requires the central government's intervention.

Gautam Kapil
Published on
Saturday, November 11, 2017 - 00:17
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6 min 52 sec

The thick, toxic smog enveloping New Delhi this week has closed schools, snarled traffic and postponed sporting events. Illegal crop burning in the states surrounding New Delhi, vehicle exhaust fumes in a city with limited public transport, and swirling construction dust have caused the crisis. While New Delhi's chief minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the megacity of 20 million people had become a "gas chamber," blaming the air pollution on crop burning in neighbouring Indian states.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Modi to intervene to resolve the air pollution crisis that is gripping north India. Crop burning in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is believed to be fuelling growing pollution in the region.

PM 2.5 particles, which are small enough to settle inside your lungs and cause severe respiratory diseases, peaked above 900 micrograms per cubic meter. The WHO safe limit is 60.

PM 2.5 is about 30 times finer than a human hair.  

At this level, not just children and elderly, but everyone is warned to remain indoors. The particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and respiratory diseases.

Illnesses tied to pollution claimed the lives of as many as 2.5 million Indian people in 2015, according to a study by the Lancet medical journal.

Last year, too, around the same time, the smog caused nightmare in capital city, and neighbouring states.  But authorities have been unable to reduce the refuse burning that sends the thick cloud of smoke billowing over the Delhi. 

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