AIR AT­TACK

Mail Today - - FRONT PAGE - By Ab­hishek Anand & Supriya Bharad­waj in New Delhi

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

QAMAR SIBTAIN

K ASIF

Traf­fic mov­ing un­der thick smog near Nehru Place in Delhi on Mon­day.

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