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'Breathing is Killing Me', 'Kids Have Lungs of a Smoker': Delhiites Protest 'Very Poor' Air That is About to Get Much Worse

To address the air pollution situation, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said it was mulling inducing artificial rain over the city after Diwali to wash away hazardous pollutants plaguing the national capital.

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Updated:November 6, 2018, 9:21 PM IST
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'Breathing is Killing Me', 'Kids Have Lungs of a Smoker': Delhiites Protest 'Very Poor' Air That is About to Get Much Worse
School children hold banners to express their distress on the alarming levels of pollution in New Delhi. (Image: PTI)
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New Delhi: A day ahead of Diwali, Delhi's air quality was recorded in the "very poor" category as winds continued to blow from regions where there is rampant stubble burning.

Twenty-five areas in Delhi recorded "very poor" quality air, while eight areas recorded "poor" air quality. Experts have warned of severe spike in pollution levels after Diwali even if "partial toxic crackers" are burnt compared to last year.

Right to Breathe

To protest against the alarming rise in pollution level that has become an annual feature in Delhi, citizens gathered outside the Environment Ministry on Tuesday in protest.

Holding placards displaying messages such as "Delhi air is poisonous", "breathing is killing me", "#My Right to Breathe" and "Unbreathable India" outside the Indira Pariyavaran Bhawan, the protesters said the health concerns have been ignored by the government.

They submitted a letter to senior official of the union environment ministry and the Delhi government, demanding faster implementation of a time-bound National Clean Air Program.

"For my children to have the lungs of a smoker by their teens, though no fault of their own, is absolutely unacceptable. As a mother I am absolutely appalled and ask our government what are they doing to keep my children and millions of other children from developing life-long diseases by just living in India," asked Bhavreen M Kandhari, a mother who has petitioned the AAP government on the issue.

Ravina Raj Kohli from the citizens movement #MyRightToBreathe asks what are policy makers doing with this pool of money collected through various environmental cess and fines and why has it not been used to provide real and far-reaching solutions for the sake of saving lives.

"If we are to implement long lasting solutions to air pollution - we need to penalise polluters and demand that policy makers implement commitments like the 10,000 electric buses in Delhi and the solarisation of all public buildings so that we address sources of pollution and move towards sustainable growth," said Reecha Upadhyay, member of Help Delhi Breathe.

The key components of the NCAP include city-specific air pollution abatement action plans for 100 polluting cities of the country, increasing the number of monitoring stations, data dissemination, public participation on planning and implementation.

Emergency Measures

To address the air pollution situation, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said it was mulling inducing artificial rain over the city after Diwali to wash away hazardous pollutants plaguing the national capital.

And for this, the pollution monitoring body is in talks with the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, and the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

In 2016, the government tried to explore the possibility of cloud seeding for artificial rain but the plan never worked out. Last year, the government had proposed the possibility of reducing dust by watering Delhi from a helicopter to Union Minister Harsh Vardhan.

Worse Days Ahead

The pollution watchdog also recommended a ban on entry of heavy vehicles into the city from November 8-10.

Delhi recorded its worst air quality of the season on Monday, when pollution levels reached eight times the permissible limit while a thick haze had engulfed the city.

Doctors have said the impact of air pollution on public health can be compared to smoking 15-20 cigarettes a day.

The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) on Tuesday was recorded at 320, which falls in the "very poor" category, according to data by the CPCB. On Monday, the AQI was recorded at 434 which falls in the "severe" category and was the highest of the season.

Authorities attributed the pollution to the change in wind direction, which is now blowing from the direction of stubble burning areas of Punjab and Haryana.

About 14 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in Delhi on Tuesday was caused due to stubble burning, while 33 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in Delhi on Monday was caused due to stubble burning, authorities said.

Delhi's air quality is expected to deteriorate to "severe plus emergency" category after Diwali, the Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) said.
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