Can’t breathe in Delhi-NCR, air quality poisonous
NEW DELHI: The air in the Capital became “unbreathable” on Wednesday, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) shooting up to a poisonous 517, crossing the ‘severe’ mark. Director of country’s top medical institute, AIIMS, Dr
Randeep Guleria then warned that 25,000 to 30,000 people in Delhi-NCR might lose their lives this year,
due to diseases exacerbated by pollution.
“Pollution is a silent killer,” he said, while comparing the situation to the 1952 killer Great Smog of
London. On December 5, 1952, a thick yellow smog brought London to a standstill for four days, and is
estimated to have killed more than 4,000 people.
On Tuesday, the AQI in the Capital had clocked at 448. A dark blanket of haze enveloped Delhi-NCR on
Wednesday, with citizens complaining of breathlessness and irritation in eyes. “It was worse on
Wednesday. There was dust in my eyes, throat. Delhi has become unliveable,” said Mayank Sharma, a
resident of Vasant Kunj.
Hospitals across the Capital were swarmed with patients complaining about breathlessness, headache,
throat infection, fever, cough etc. “The situation will lead to an increase in number of cases of
breathlessness and deaths. There has been a rise of 20 per cent in the number of patients in OPD,” Dr
Most monitoring stations in the city recorded pollution levels beyond 500, which was almost 10 times
the permissible limit of 60. As the air quality plummeted further in the Capital, Lieutenant-Governor
(L-G) Anil Baijal directed the Transport Department to stay prepared for the third round of Odd-Even
All schools have been shut in Delhi till Sunday. “The air quality in Delhi is deteriorating. We cannot
compromise with the health of children,” Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said. Also, schools upto
Class VIII will remain shut on November 9 and 10 in Noida and Greater Noida as well.
The wind speed required to disperse pollutants has remained stagnant at 0.3 m/s for days.
The bad news is that the air quality is expected to deteriorate even further on Thursday.
“The weather conditions are not expected to improve. It may even deteriorate further. The wind speed at
the ground level is stagnant. The situation might look a bit better on Friday, with some sunshine
predicted,” a senior scientist at the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution Prevention and Control (EPCA) chairman
Bhure Lal said that he will now be writing to the chief secretaries of Punjab and Haryana governments
to immediately stop crop burning.
“The visibility in Punjab is not even 50 yards. I will write to the state government to immediately put
a stop to crop burning. It has affected Delhi-NCR badly,” he said
Entry of trucks (except those carrying essential commodities) to Delhi stopped.
Civil construction activities in city stopped.
DMRC increases frequency Metro services.
Municipal Corporations and PWD intensify mechanical road sweepings and sprinkling of water.
Parking fees increased by four times.
Municipal Corporations stop use of fire wood and coal in hotels and eateries.
Open burning prohibited.