Economy

Fog blankets Delhi-NCR as air pollution hits 'severe' levels, flights affected

Fog blankets Delhi-NCR as air pollution hits 'severe' levels, flights affected

According to CPCB's continuous monitoring of the emergency situation - that requires PM2.5 to remain above 300 units or PM10 to remain above 500 units for 48 hours -, Delhi at 11 a.m. on Saturday saw a drop in particle pollution for an hour.

"Sprinkling water is the only way to bring down the risky pollution levels", said Shruti Bhardwaj, the environment ministry's senior most official in charge of monitoring air quality. A USA embassy measure of tiny PM 2.5 particles, showed a reading of 523 at nine a.m. on Friday.

Illegal crop burning in farm states surrounding New Delhi, vehicle exhausts and swirling construction dust have contributed to what has become an annual crisis.

Firecrackers set off to celebrate last month's Diwali festival of lights in the city added to the toxic mix.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal asked his deputy and education minister Manish Sisodia to consider shutting schools in the city for a few days in view of the high pollution.

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Anti-pollution measures adopted by Delhi state government in recent years include limiting auto use and taxing trucks that pass through the city, but few have succeeded. The resulting thick haze - also known as ground level ozone - gets trapped near the earth due to warm air in atmosphere. The Indian Medical Association has urged organisers to call off a half-marathon set for November 19 to protect runners and volunteers and urged administrators to "curb this menace".

"I have installed six air purifiers in my home and closed all the windows, but my eyes are still watering", said Ranveer Singhal, a commodity trader living in a leafy neighbourhood of the city. "This is not fog, this is smoke, and it is certainly making us sick".

The Delhi high court issued an order on Thursday suggesting the city's government consider "cloud seeding" to induce rainfall artificially, a practice also used in Beijing.

Bhure Lal, Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA) chairperson said in a statement, "There has been some improvement".

The state government must adopt long-term anti-pollution measures, such as improving public transport and banning the use of dirty industry fuel, said Anumita Roychowdhury of New Delhi's Centre for Science and Environment.


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