REPORT: New Delhi’s air quality at worst level of the year

The overall air quality index in New Delhi, the capital city of India, has deteriorated to its worst level this year prompting a social media barrage of residents complaining about stinging eyes, sore throat and breathlessness in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to official data and details, the overall air quality in New Delhi measures pollutants including PM2.5 particles were tested, which has risen to 488 from 477 on a scale of 500 on Monday. It has reached the highest level in a year, according to government data.

The airborne hazardous substance PM2.5, which causes diseases such as lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory diseases, has reached its highest level since November 2019, according to statistics and stood 30 times over the World Health Organization’s (WHO) safe limit.

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In addition, Delhi has been hit by the ‘third wave’ of coronavirus infections and is facing one of the worst pollution waves this year, due to burning of waste in neighboring states and smoke emissions from local vehicles.

Sachin Taparia, founder of Local Circles, said that “at least 65% of households in New Delhi have complained of difficulty breathing with at least one individual with other symptoms”.

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Moreover, a private survey of social media platforms found that between November 6 and 9, about 6,000 families were affected by air pollution. Pollution in New Delhi was completely eradicated earlier this year when a national lockdown was imposed by the government to control the coronavirus, but the government lifted the ban at the end of August.

Authorities banned the sale and use of firecrackers and other fireworks on the occassion of Diwali to curb pollution, but environmentalists called on the government to take further action.

“Delhi’s air has become dangerous. Other construction activities, including coal plants around Delhi, need to be stopped immediately,” said Vimlendu Jha, founder of the non-profit organization Swechha.

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Officials and businessmen are worried that shutting down industrial activities could hurt the economy.

In addition, the System for Air quality Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) in India, has predicted that the situation will worsen in the next 24 hours due to stagnant winds and rising humidity levels, which will lead to prolonged air pollution.

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