Delhi has attained the undesirable distinction of becoming the most polluted city in the world this month, as  the air quality has fallen beyond minimal tolerance levels. In May 2014 the World Health Organization announced New Delhi as the most polluted city in the world. Overpopulation and the resulting overuse of limited resources puts heavy pressure on the environment.

On November 8, just after Diwali, pollution levels were so high that the Air Quality Index  rose to 999, way above the upper limit of the worst category, Hazardous. The particulate pollutants and toxic chemicals that make up the smog( smoke plus fog) have choked so many people all around Delhi NCR where merely breathing the air was, at its worst, like smoking 50 cigarettes in a day. Reported increase was registered in patients with pollution-related illnesses, and doctors have declared this as public health emergency. The burning of farm wastes – in the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana was earlier considered as the major cause of this

Concerns over Delhi’s annual (and increasingly worse) air pollution problem usually focus on stubble burning -. However, data suggests that while this contributes to the problem it is not the main cause of this unpleasant situation. But the unusual facts from Punjab disproved the fact.

In Punjab, where most of stubble burning have taken place, the air quality is “moderate”. In Delhi it oscillates between “very poor” and “severe”. In fact, the contribution of stubble burning to Delhi’s pollution was only 16 per cent. The Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) in March last year listed

  • Exhaust and emissions from vehicles as the largest contributor of Particulate matter PM 2.5 pollutants in Delhi – between 18 and 40 per cent.
  • Dust from roads contributed around 36 to 66 per cent of PM10 pollutants.

The situation has even worsened, as pollution has aggravated the pandemic situation.

Although government is putting all its efforts to tackle with this strenuous situation by monitoring the pollution levels of known hotspots 24*7, but it our duty and demand of the hour to contribute in this drive to reduce air pollution.



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