Delhi: Air quality level remains severe in capital

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. PTI File

Monitoring stations across the national capital recorded air quality as "very poor" and experts warned that the conditions would persist through the week.According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (Safar), the levels of airborne particulate matter PM 10 was 289 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) and PM 2.5 171 µg/m3 on Tuesday morning.

The Delhi administration, which described the city as a "gas chamber," had previously ordered schools for young children to close only for Wednesday.

Levels of PM2.5 pollutants in New Delhi have hit 1,000mg this week, according to reports; to put this in context, 300mg is considered a highly risky amount.

Doctor Arvind Kumar, chairman of the Centre for Chest Surgery at Delhi's Ganga Ram Hospital, said the city's air could shorten the life of the 22 million people living in the city. Delhi's smog led to the Indian Medical Association declaring a "public health emergency".

Expressing anxiety over the unsafe air quality levels in the National Capital Region (NCR), apex industry body Assocham on Friday urged the Centre and the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to establish a clear strategy to aggressively tackle air pollution.

According to doctors, consistently breathing in the microscopic particles can be seriously detrimental for our health, increasing the risk of heart attacks and strokes.

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"The situation in Delhi is so bad and if the pollution can be brought down in any way, we will do it", he told AFP.

The Times of India wrote a scathing editorial about the capital's air pollution.

"Air pollution during winter months has become a catastrophe for large parts of north India".

While it questioned the Delhi government on delayed steps taken to curb the issue, it slammed the Punjab and Haryana governments for failing to reduce crop burning which is said to be the major cause of pollution.

"Sprinkling water is the only way to bring down the unsafe pollution levels", said Shruti Bhardwaj, the environment ministry's senior most official in charge of monitoring air quality.

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