India: extraordinary environmental pollution in New Delhi

New Delhi, the most polluted capital city in the world, woke up this Monday, November 13 morning under a thick cloud of pollution. smog. Pollution has been at very high levels for two weeks, but got even worse with the celebration of the Festival of Lights yesterday, Sunday.

From our correspondent in New Delhi,

Fireworks and firecrackers were heard throughout the night and gave the strange impression that war was breaking out on the streets of New Delhi, on the occasion of the Hindu festival of Diwali. The sale and use of these explosives has been banned, but nothing seems to be able to stop the Diwali spirit.

And this Monday morning, the sun’s rays barely penetrate the thick, gray clouds of smoke, leaving you coughing and your eyes stinging. The air is truly toxic: the concentration of fine particles is more than 300 microns per m3, or 20 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Various sources of pollution

In autumn, there are four main sources of pollution: emissions from the capital’s ten million vehicles, the majority of which are two-wheelers. Then industrial emissions and dust from construction sites, which are very numerous in this large metropolitan city of 30 million people, are increasing.

And finally, organic smoke, especially from fires in the surrounding area, where farmers burn their stubble so they can replant crops for the next harvest more quickly. This is happening now, and adding to the suffering of Delhiites.

Also readIndia: closure of schools in New Delhi causing pollution

Most of these emissions continue throughout the rest of the year, but pollution is more severe in autumn, purely for meteorological reasons: the winter cold reduces and concentrates all these gases. And most importantly, almost no wind can dispel this pollution.

Hence, it stagnated over New Delhi instead of leaving it behind. And this applies to the entire Ganges Valley, in northern India, where 14 of the world’s most polluted cities are located, home to hundreds of millions of people.

How to cure it?

In New Delhi, many initiatives have been launched in recent years: all scooters and taxis in the city must switch to natural gas. An aggressive transport electrification policy has also been launched. The last coal-fired power plant in the region was also closed. This reduces pollution slightly.

But the hardest part remains to be done: reducing the number of vehicles, slowing down construction sites or closing coal-fired power plants in northern India. This is in contrast to what is happening in developing countries, where cities have more and more cars and buildings that require more coal-based energy.

Also readIndia: New Delhi is suffocating due to pollution levels 15 times higher than recommendations

Serena Hoyles

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