As soon as the season of the festival- Diwali wrapped, Delhiites started to choke by a heavy smog blanket with poor visibility. The quality of the air of Delhi-NCR reached to alarming level across the city. On 7th November 2016, National Green Tribunal slammed the Delhi Government and three other neighboring states- Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan over its inaction to curb air pollution in the capital. Due to the alarming health issues in the capital, Chief Minister ArvindKejriwal shut down schools and appealed the office goers to stay at home for the next three days. Delhi faced the worst smog in 17 years with visibility dipping to 500-600 meters in many parts of the city. The word smog was coined in the early 20th century as a portmanteau of the words smoke and fog to refer to smoky fog, opacity, and odor. It is a term used to describe the haze of smoke-laden fog that is caused by atmospheric pollution being trapped close to the ground. According to a report from CNN of 7th November 2016, New Delhi is considered the most polluted city on Earth right now.
Action and reaction of Delhi smog:
- Hundreds of people, including children staged a protest against the government and local administration lackadaisical attitude to handle the crisis on 6th November 2016.
- The Gurugram district administration banned the burning of waste, garbage and other materials in open.
- NTPC Temporarily closes Badarpur Plant on Delhi Government order.
- Delhi Government holds a meeting on re-introduction of Odd-Even.
- Residents of the capital wear gas masks to save themselves from the hazardous of the crisis like- Throat itching, burning eyes, breathing problem, nausea, and headache.
- Delhi Metro suspends all excavation, concrete dismantling works due to the crisis of the city.
- NDMC begins sprinkling water on roads to reduce dust and control air pollution in the city.
- The state government announced to install smoke-tappers to control emission.
- More than 50 major construction work were stopped.
- Special drive to check pollution in Delhi under which many vehicles were challenged and were returned at borders.
- Delhi Government bans firecrackers during marriages and other events.
- Nearly 50% jump in the demand for air purifiers in Delhi-NCR as per the survey conducted by the ASSOCHAM.
- Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) that guards the Delhi Metro and airports were seen wearing anti-pollution masks so that they can operate without being affected by the current emergency situation.
- LG directs Delhi Police and municipal corporations to implement an action plan which includes deregistration of 15-year-old diesel vehicles.
- Levels of the most dangerous particles, called PM 2.5, reached 700 micrograms per cubic meter on 7th November 2016.
Images published by the NASA suggest that burning of crops in the neighboring states of Punjab and Haryana could be the biggest reason due to which city refuses to clear the air. A staggering amount of 32 million tons of leftover straw is being burned by the farmers to make room for winter wheat crop. Government scientist reported that crop fire had 70% share in the current situation of Delhi.To which Haryana chief MinisterManmohanLalKhattarin return claimed that other factors such as construction activities, vehicle emissions and bursting of firecrackers during Diwali also triggered the emergency situation in the national capital.
- Vehicular exhausts
- Burning of agricultural crops
- Coal emissions
- Reactions between sunlight, nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds
- cigarette smoke
Hazardous health effects of Delhi smog:
- Shortened lifespan
- Affects lungs and heart
- Shortness of breath
- Discomfort while breathing.
Smog prevention tips:
- Put gas masks only after meeting your physician especially if you any respiratory illness or breathing problem.
- Surgical masks are cheap but use it just for a day as they are harmful beyond that.
- You can use N95 mask for 3 months.
- You can use gadgets such as air purifiers, ionizers, and humidifiers.
- As predicted by the Indian Meteorological Department the level of pollution in the city has decreased due to the high wind speed but the air is still not safe to breathe.