Toxic air, strike af­ter Di­wali fes­tiv­i­ties

Daily News - - WORLD -

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. |

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