India: Schools Closed, Buses Halted in New Delhi Due to Pollution
India's capital city, New Delhi, was swept by a thick layer of toxic haze on Friday, prompting school closures into the weekend, halted construction projects, and a ban on the entry of diesel buses into the city....
India's capital city, New Delhi, was swept by a thick layer of toxic haze on Friday, prompting school closures into the weekend, halted construction projects, and a ban on the entry of diesel buses into the city.1
The Switzerland-based air monitoring group IQAir put the city's air quality index at 611, which is in the 'hazardous' category and far higher than the preferred 0-50 range.1
The city's government ordered all classes be held virtually through Saturday, and while there has been a ban on construction activities, exceptions have been made for 'railway services, metro services, airports, inter-state bus terminals, defense-related activities, [and] healthcare-related activities,' among others.2
According to officials, the pollution is due to several factors, including lower temperatures, insufficient wind, and the burning of crop stubble in nearby farm states, with many of the city's 20M residents experiencing negative symptoms.3
Government agencies have also forecast the situation, which has already seen smog blocking sunlight, to intensify over the next 15-20 days.4
This comes as the city is set to host the Cricket World Cup on Monday, and though it's still scheduled, India’s cricket board announced a ban on fireworks displays.1
Narrative A, as provided by The New York Times. India's air quality problem goes beyond New Delhi and into surrounding cities like Mumbai, most likely due to farmers burning rice stubble in Punjab, northwest of the capital. Both the ruling national BJP party and its opposition, the Aam Adami party, which rules Punjab, have seemingly done nothing to tackle this issue. Between that, car exhaust, and incapable governments at the national and state levels, India will continue to endure this annual toxification of their air.
Narrative B, as provided by Op India. The government, by way of the courts, has already identified the main culprit here as Delhi's forest department — it's also already issued guidelines to prevent such devastating smog. However, the department has disregarded these mandates by continuing to cut down trees in the capital, resulting in lethal record air quality numbers. The city must take responsibility for this and stop poisoning its citizens.