The weather conditions prevailing in the capital were touted as one of the biggest reasons for the density and severity of the smog. The end of the month of October is usually the time when winter begins to set in the city of Delhi. This means that the speed of the winds is significantly reduced and the temperatures also begin to drop. The result of a combination of the two is instead of the smog particles being constantly blown away and scattered by the wind, they begin to collect and solidify in their own place, leading to the increased density of the smog. Additionally, is also the fact that the air of Delhi is so polluted all year round that it does not have any additional capacity to to bear the added pollution from the crackers and crop burning, among other sources of air pollution in the city.
One of the practices used by farmers to clear the land for agricultural purposes is crop burning. Essentially, its a process in which the farmers set fire to the crops/trees/plants growing in a certain area of land in a controlled way such that only the desired amount of area is cleared while the rest of the area remains covered in vegetation. One of the major repercussions of this process is the release of various gases in the air from the burning of such vegetation. Since, Punjab is one of the major agricultural centers in India, this practice is highly prevalent in those parts. The proximity of Punjab to Delhi and the mass scale burning of crops in the area is believed to be one of the primary causes of the smog. The Akali Dal, which is the ruling party in Punjab has also been blamed for not taking stringent actions against such activities owing to the upcoming elections.
3.The Crackers Burst During Diwali
Bursting of crackers during the festival of Diwali is a common practice in every household, especially in the Northern parts of India. However, the indiscriminate burning of such crackers is one of the biggest sources of the release of noxious gasses and pollutants into the atmosphere. This year saw huge campaigns being undertaken by the government and private parties alike to spread awareness about the ill effects of bursting fireworks. A majority of the citizens took pledges to celebrate Diwali in an eco-friendly manner by avoiding purchasing crackers. However, all such efforts and pledges went up in smoke on the eve of Diwali as the evening after, when most of the residents took to the streets bursting the very same crackers that they had promised to refrain from. Delhi is known both for its immense population and its extreme pollution and when such a vast number of people contribute to the release of even more pollutants into an already over-polluted air, then the result is as disastrous as the smog covering the city of Delhi the day succeeding Diwali.
As has already been discussed above, the entire city of Delhi came to a standstill as the visibility on the streets reduced to almost zero and inherently the chances of a road accident went up drastically. The number of people suffering from breathing related medical conditions also shot up astronomically and schools and offices had to remain shut for a number of days to ensure traffic on the streets is reduced ad no untoward road accidents occur. The government also tried to take steps to reduce the smog to acceptable standards but not much could be done apart from letting nature take its course and letting the smog naturally clear away.
The smog situation created in Delhi, even though temporary, served as a huge reminder that the air in Delhi is already polluted to its maximum and it is high time that serious steps are taken to bring the pollution levels under check. The smog also served as a wakeup call for all those who were up until now under the assumption that air pollution is way more hyped than it should be. If the smog for a few days could wreak such havoc in the lives of the people, further air pollution could be catastrophic for the people as well as the nation and hence it is in the best interests of everyone that sincere efforts be made to curb the menace of air pollution.