Quantcast

India Air Pollution Crisis Worsens: Government Plans to Spray Capital With Water

Health + Wellness

A four-day old noxious blanket of smog resting on the Indian capital, New Delhi, that officials expect to worsen over the weekend has prompted a plan to spray water over the city.

On Friday, the government announced, in an unprecedented move, it was finalizing plans to spray water from 100 meters above the city, Reuters reported. It remains unclear how much of the densely populated city of 22 million would be sprayed.


Government officials have closed 6,000 schools, banned all but the most essential commercial trucks, and are re-introducing an "odd-even" scheme which allows vehicle with plates ending in an odd number to operate on one day and even-numbered vehicles the next day.

Despite these measures, the air in New Deli has remained "hazardous" for days. Illegal crop burning, vehicle emissions, industrial pollution and dust from sprawling construction sites have contributed to the pollution emergency. By 11 am on Friday, the U.S. embassy air quality data for PM 2.5 showed levels had reached 550, while the safe limit is 50, according to U.S. embassy standards.

PM 2.5 is particulate matter about 30 times finer than human hair that can be inhaled into the lungs and blood stream, causing cardiac arrest, strokes, lung cancer and a host of other respiratory diseases.

Residents in New Delhi are reporting burning eyes, headaches and nausea. The air is filled with heavy metals and other carcinogens at 30 times WHO limits. Medical professionals consider those levels of pollution at least as harmful as 50 cigarettes a day.

The situation is so dire that doctors are seeing a change in health demographics. Doctors are now reporting that half of their lung cancer patients in New Delhi are non-smokers. Earlier in the week, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, the leader of Delhi, called the capital a "gas chamber."

New Delhi is surrounded by thirteen coal-driven power plants all lying within 185-mile radius of the city. The government ordered one of these plants closed in an attempt to mitigate the pollution. But Delhi's pollution woes in part lie outside of the city. Delhi is neighbored by Punjab and Haryana—large agrarian states that burn millions of tons of crop waste every year around October in preparation for the winter wheat crop.

The National Green Tribunal, an Indian environmental governing body, previously directed the Delhi government and neighboring states to halt the burning of crop residue, but without sufficient funds for machinery, the practice continues. Government data shows the federal government had committed nearly $20 million to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to help manage crop residue and farm mechanization. Government figures also showed that Punjab had not utilized the fund.

Unless these regions are able to cut local pollution, New Delhi's crisis will likely continue, experts warn.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Tim Lydon

Climate-related disasters are on the rise, and carbon emissions are soaring. Parents today face the unprecedented challenge of raising children somehow prepared for a planetary emergency that may last their lifetimes. Few guidebooks are on the shelves for this one, yet, but experts do have advice. And in a bit of happy news, it includes strategies already widely recognized as good for kids.

Read More
Pexels

Be it Nina Simone and James Brown for civil rights, Joni Mitchell and Marvin Gaye for the environment, or Jackson Browne and Buffalo Springfield for nuclear disarmament, musicians have long helped push social movements into the limelight.

Read More
Sponsored
Yulia Lisitsa / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Brianna Elliott, RD

Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body.

It is the major component of connective tissues that make up several body parts, including tendons, ligaments, skin, and muscles.

Read More
Greenpeace activists unfurl banners after building a wood and card 'oil pipeline' outside the Canadian High Commission, Canada House, to protest against the Trudeau government's plans to build an oil pipeline in British Colombia on April 18, 2018 in London. Chris J Ratcliffe / Getty Images

By Jessica Corbett

In an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, 42 Nobel laureates implored the federal government to "act with the moral clarity required" to tackle the global climate crisis and stop Teck Resources' proposed Frontier tar sands mine.

Read More
Mapping Urban Heat through Portland State University / video

Concrete and asphalt absorb the sun's energy. So when a heat wave strikes, city neighborhoods with few trees and lots of black pavement can get hotter than other areas — a lot hotter.

Read More