Delhi breathing toxic air; situation remains alarming

The atmosphere of Delhi has been the worst in the past week with smog enveloped all over the state. The condition of the national capital is worrisome as pollution is leading to serious health issues. The level of pollution in Delhi air has never been to this extent since past 17 years.

Delhi engulfed in smog

The pollutants in the air can be felt while breathing. One can even taste it. The concentration of a tiny particulate called PM 2.5, present in pollution, has been averaged close to 700 micrograms per cubic meter which is 12 times the permissible limit according to the government of India and is 70 times the WHO standards.

Delhi needs intervention of the central government as people have started to face health problems such as cough, chest pain, burning eyes, etc. Doctors are advising people to stay indoors as much as possible. Breathing exercises such as yoga or any other outdoor activity needs to be completely avoided till the condition of the air improves.

Battling the air pollution also needs individual efforts like we must prohibit fireworks, should not burn garbage, and should ensure not to spread dust in environment anyhow.

Neighboring states have also contributed to the toxic Delhi air. When winters begin, farmers in Punjab, Haryana and other states, burn straw from rice crop. This is done to clear the paddy fields and plant wheat. In the last couple of days, because of this, the air has become dirtier. The wind blows towards Delhi from all directions including these states. It is cheaper to burn rice paddy straw than hire people to carry it away. Thus, farmers adopt the burning method to dispose off the crops.

“It is a compulsion for farmers to do this. As much as it harms the people sitting in Delhi, it harms us and our children even more,” said Bijendar Singh, a farmer in Haryana.

Delhi’s air quality is worst in winters. It calls for air pollution control measures from government. Last month, the city had launched a smartphone application called ‘Change the Air’ inviting people to send photos and complaints about sources of pollution. The odd-even car policy was also implemented in Delhi to reduce the amount of pollution in air. But the government is yet to work out a strategy to help farmers dispose off their crop waste.

Government needs to build a combat strategy against this menace immediately. It is the need of the hour and a need for our future generations.

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