The ‘Vanishing’ Train: Yamuna bridge near ISBT at 9.30 am on Monday
DELHI’S air quality plunged into the most dangerous category on Monday, two days before Diwali when bursting of firecrackers, however limited, is likely to worsen the situation dramatically.
Pollution was “severe” — the sixth and the last stage on the air quality index (AQI). This has happened for a second time in a week, due to a change in wind direction and rampant crop stubble burning in neighbouring states, authorities said.
Wind blew from the northwestern region towards Delhi, bringing with it dust and smoke. A thick haze engulfed the city and experts warned the air quality is likely to worsen further due to local factors.
The overall AQI reading was 418, a drastic decline from a day before when it was “moderate” at 171. On Sunday, Delhi had breathed the cleanest air in three weeks.
The air quality turned “severe” for the first time this season on
October 30. On Monday, morning walkers, joggers, cyclists and fitness and sports enthusiasts, who regularly visit India Gate, wore pollution masks and complained about a burning sensation in the throat and chest.
“We have been coming to India Gate lawns to run for a decade. If this is the level of pollution before Diwali, then what is the government doing?” asked Sameer Singh Aulakh.
Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit expressed concern. “This is a tragedy. We are concerned about the health of citizens of Delhi. The situation is frightening for us. This blamegame will not help anyone. Action needs to be taken,” she said, referring to quarrels between the Centre and Delhi’s AAP government over the issue.
“What steps were taken by the Delhi government? They should tell us what steps they have taken. Immediate steps should be taken to address the crisis. Governments should take note of the situation and take emergency steps,” Dikshit said.
Union environment minister Harsh Vardhan said the Central government was taking necessary steps to control the situation.
Pollution was severe — 6th & last stage on AQI
This is a tragedy. We are concerned about the health of citizens of Delhi. The situation is frightening for us. This blame-game will not help anyone. Action needs to be taken — Sheila Dikshit, former Delhi CM
The Centre is making all possible efforts to maintain air quality, and legal action is being initiated against those who violate pollution regulations. — Harsh Vardhan, Union environment minister
Traffic moving under thick smog near Nehru Place in Delhi on Monday.