Toxic air, strike after Diwali festivities
POLLUTION in the Indian capital, New Delhi, hit “severe” heights yesterday after thousands of revellers in the city let off fireworks to mark the major Hindu festival of Diwali.
Two of the federal government’s indices showed pollution levels at “very poor” and “severe”, indicating that prolonged exposure could lead to respiratory illnesses. These indices measure the concentration of tiny poisonous particulate matter.
The US embassy tweeted that the air quality levels in Delhi had soared to 526 at 6am. That would put the pollution above hazardous levels and pose a serious health risk to residents.
A level of 50 or less is considered healthy.
Each year, smoke from festival firecrackers significantly adds to pollution levels in Delhi and its satellite cities, resulting in a haze that can linger for days as wind speeds drop in the cooler weather.
For a second successive year, New Delhi’s chief minister has likened the city to a “gas chamber”. Around this time last year, he declared a public health crisis, closing schools for a week and told residents to remain indoors.
Meanwhile, almost 400 ground staff of Air India were on strike yesterday at the Mumbai International Airport terminal over non-payment of Diwali bonuses, causing flight delays, local media report. The staff called for a strike on the night of Diwali on Wednesday, the Times of India reports. Air India flights departing from Mumbai were delayed by hours in the wake of the protest. |