India: Smoke in the capital closed schools, factories
NEW DELHI – Schools were closed indefinitely and several coal-fired power plants closed as India’s capital was enveloped in smog and neighboring states introduced harsh measures today. Wednesday to combat worsening air pollution following an order from the federal Environment Department.
The measures come as India’s highest court is weighing whether New Delhi should go into lockdown as a thick layer of gray smog continues to blanket the city, especially into morning. The panel issued guidance Tuesday night to stem the pollution and show the public that the government is taking action to bring under control the environmental crisis that has plagued the capital for years.
In addition to closing schools, the Air Quality Management Commission ordered construction activities to stop until November 21 and banned trucks carrying non-essential goods. The panel also directed states to “encourage” work from home for half of all employees in all private offices.
Despite some improvement in the air over New Delhi over the past two days, readings for hazardous particles on Wednesday remained seven times the safe level, to above 300 micrograms per cubic meter in some parts of the country. city.
The World Health Organization assigns a safe level for small, toxic particles to 25.
Forecasters warn air quality will deteriorate ahead of cold winds next week that could blow away the smog.
Earlier this month, the air quality fell to “severe” in the capital and residents faced severe pollution that lasted for days. It issued a stark warning last week from India’s Supreme Court, which ordered federal and state governments to take “imminent and urgent” measures to address what This country is called a crisis.
Out of many Indian cities, New Delhi tops this list every year. The crisis is exacerbated especially in winter when the burning of crop residues in neighboring states coincides with colder temperatures trapping deadly smoke. That smoke reached New Delhi, leading to increased pollution in the city of more than 20 million people.
Emissions from industries without pollution control technology, pollution from festival-related firecrackers, and construction dust also increase sharply during the winter months.
Several studies have estimated that more than one million Indians die each year from diseases related to air pollution.
The capital often experimented with limiting the number of cars on the road to reduce vehicle emissions, using large smoke guns and halting construction. But the steps have had little effect.
Experts say such emergency measures do not help in the long run.
“These things are done just to make sure you’re not making the situation worse, that you’re shaving. But it’s not the silver bullet that will just do it,” said Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director at the Center. clean the air immediately”. for Science and Environment, a research and advocacy organization in New Delhi.