Air quality remains 'severe' in Delhi, NCR


Though the prime cause is attributed to the burning of residue of crops in Haryana and Punjab during October and November, the Union government and the governments of Delhi and the adjoining states always react in a knee-jerk manner.

The thick blanket of smog has been visible from space for days, smothering the northern part of the country in a milky haze.

The air quality of Delhi-NCR showed a slight improvement on Saturday but the residents continued breathing toxins as the pollution levels remained at "severe" for the fifth day in a row. A US embassy measure of tiny particulate matter, called PM 2.5, showed a reading of 523 at 9 a.m. on Friday - the outer limit of "good" air is 50.

Delhi's air has been consistently in the "hazardous" zone for days, despite measures such as a halt to construction and restrictions on vehicle use including raising parking charges fourfold and a licence plate "odd-even" rule on alternate days.

Long-term measures, such as improving public transport and banning the use of dirty industry fuel, are required, said Anumita Roychowdhury of New Delhi's Centre for Science and Environment.

"The only solution left is that we start spraying water right at the street level, especially along heavy traffic roads", Jain said. It said: "Delhi once again has become a veritable gas chamber with denizens finding it hard to breathe".

"I have installed six air purifiers in my home, closed all the windows, but my eyes are still watering", said Ranveer Singhal, a commodity trader living in leafy neighborhood of the city.

Delhi, home to almost 19 million people, is among the world's most polluted cities according to the World Health Organization.

At a time when National Capital is hitting the headlines over alarming levels of pollution, a report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has found that the air quality of holy city Varanasi is most polluted among the 42 cities monitored recently.

Meanwhile, cities like Lucknow, Kanpur, Kota, Agra and Rohtak have also listed as high-risk regions in terms of pollution.