Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel urged
greater efforts to clean up New Delhi's toxic air as she pledged one billion
euros to help Indian cities switch to green transport.
Merkel became a rare foreign leader to speak out on India's smog crisis
after being exposed to the capital's air on Friday, when authorities said the
pollution had reached emergency levels.
Schools were ordered closed until Tuesday and all construction halted,
while Delhi authorities started distributing millions of anti-pollution masks
The same day, Merkel went on a ceremonial parade in the city with Prime
Minister Narendra Modi on Friday as the smog intensified.
Neither leader wore masks despite authorities telling residents to stay
indoors to avoid the haze.
Merkel said that Germany would spend one billion euros on green urban
transport projects in India over the next five years, including 200 million
euros to replace diesel buses in Tamil Nadu state.
These diesel buses are to be replaced by electric buses and anyone who
saw the pollution in Delhi yesterday would find very good arguments for
replacing even more of these buses, Merkel said in the widely reported
Much of the new peak in the most dangerous PM 2.5 pollutants �
particulates smaller than 2.5 microns that get into the lungs and bloodstream
� has been blamed on fires lit by farmers to burn off wheat crop residues
outside of the capital.
Higher winds improved air quality on Saturday but pollution remained
severe, according to government monitors.
� Cricket match �
The city will be under a new spotlight on Sunday when India play
Bangladesh in a cricket international.
The two teams have insisted they will go ahead with the match despite the
Some Bangladesh players and bowling coach Daniel Vettori trained in masks
at the Arun Jaitley stadium, where the Twenty20 match is to be played.
Authorities have ordered trees in and around the stadium to be sprayed
with water to collect dust.
They have also set up special patrols to stop construction work and
Bangladesh captain Mahmudullah Riyad said the team had spoken about the
pollution dangers but there was little they could do.
When we came here there was smog, we all know, but the players have
practiced for last three days, trying to adapt to the conditions. he said.
It's not within our control, we have to focus on our cricket.
Delhi has faced a mounting pollution crisis over the past decade.
Fourteen Indian cities including the capital are among the world's top 15
most polluted cities, according to the United Nations. According to one
study, smog kills a million Indians prematurely every year.
Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)