NEW DELHI : India's capital New Delhi was enveloped and wrapped in heavy, toxic smog last Sunday - the worst levels in recent years - with flights diverted or delayed as politicians blamed each other for failing to tackle the crisis.

Every winter, the megacity of 20 million people is blanketed by a poisonous smog of car fumes, industrial emissions and smoke from stubble burning at farms in neighboring states.

Concentrations of particles measuring less than 2.5 microns hit the highest level of this season, exacerbated by light rains late on Saturday, India's state-run System of Air Quality Weather forecasting and Research [SAFAR] said.

The reading for pollutants in the atmosphere hot 810 micrograms per cubic metre on Sunday morning, beyond the ''hazardous'' zone according to the US embassy in Delhi, which independently monitors pollution levels.

The recommended World Health Organization safe daily maximum is 25.

''Pollution has reached unbearable levels,'' Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted Sunday.

Visibility was so poor that major carriers Air India and Vistara said flights were being delayed or diverted to and from Delhi's airports.

''It's certainly scary - you can't see things in front of you,'' protester Javipra said at a rally in Delhi on Sunday calling for politicians to do more to curb pollution

Nurses at the demonstrations said they were seeing more people suffering from respiratory problems.

''Patients are coming with more lung and respiratory diseases, like more [are] affected with asthma.

The conditions sparked a blame game between state and federal politicians over who was responsible  for the conditions, which authorities said on Friday reached ''emergency'' levels.

In a tweet last week, Kejriwal called on the state governments of neighboring Punjab and Haryana to take action.

''Delhi has turned into a gas-chamber, due to smoke from crop burning in neighboring states,'' he tweeted.

Federal Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar accused Kejriwal of politcising the issue and presenting two states ''in a bad light and as villains.'' 

Global non-profit Vital Strategies senior vice president for environmental health, Danial Kass, said while temporary curbs were helpful, they had limited impact over time.

''They are insufficient to address the most important aspect of air pollution, which us what people live with day-to-day,'' Kass said. [AFP]


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!