India's capital New Delhi was enveloped
in heavy, toxic smog Sunday the worst levels in recent years with
flights diverted or delayed as politicians blamed each other for failing to
tackle the crisis.
Every winter, the megacity of 20 million people is blanketed by a poisonous
smog of car fumes, industrial emissions and smoke from stubble burning at
farms in neighbouring states.
Concentrations of particles measuring less than 2.5 microns hit the
highest level of this season, exacerbated by light rains late Saturday,
India's state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research
The reading for pollutants in the atmosphere hit 810 micrograms per cubic
metre Sunday morning, in the hazardous zone according to the US embassy in
Delhi, which independently monitors pollution levels.
The recommended World Health Organisation safe daily maximum is 25.
Pollution has reached unbearable levels, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind
Kejriwal tweeted Sunday.
Locals complained of sore eyes and throats, with some residents wearing
masks to protect themselves.
Visibility was so poor major carriers Air India and Vistara said Sunday
flights were being delayed or diverted to and from Delhi's airports.
Some cricket players and coaches have also been training in masks ahead of
the Twenty20 international between Bangladesh and India later Sunday.
The shocking conditions sparked a blame game between state and federal
politicians over who was responsible for the conditions, which authorities
said Friday had reached emergency levels.
In a tweet last week, Kejriwal called on the state governments of
neighbouring Punjab and Haryana to take action.
Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in
neighbouring states, he tweeted.
Federal Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar accused Kejriwal of
politicising the issue and presenting the two states in a bad light and as
Schools in Delhi have already been ordered closed until Tuesday, and
construction halted From Monday there will be an odd/even car licence plate
scheme to cut traffic.
Last year, a UN report found 14 of the world's 15 most polluted cities were
in India, with one US study saying it kills a million people prematurely
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)