Air pollution in India: A silent killer is strangling Delhi.For millions of people, there is no choice but to inhale

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“I’m here to wait. Sometimes people will give me food,” Singh said, his voice masked by smoke from rickshaws and cars a few meters away.

But some Delhi residents have become so used to the bad air that it has become a part of daily life-they say they hardly notice.

Others said it made them sick.

Gulpreet Singh begging for food outside the station on the South Delhi campus. He struggled to breathe pollution.

Choked by smoke

A policeman directing traffic at a busy intersection in Delhi said that the pollution level this winter has become “unbearable”.

The 48-year-old police officer said: “I took off my mask because I needed to sound the horn to stop traffic, but it was terrible.” The media.

Exhaust fumes emanate from the rows of vehicles around him-he said he found it difficult to breathe.

“My eyes hurt. It’s difficult to breathe. It’s not easy,” he said.

Neelam Joshi, a 39-year-old social worker, said that every time she walks out of the house to catch a train to work, she feels pollution.

“When you leave the house in the morning, this is the first thing that hits you,” Josh said. At the end of the day, she said that her body seemed to have adapted, but the next day, it happened again.

“In the past six years when I lived in Delhi, pollution has never decreased,” she said. “It will only increase every year. Every year we reach a different level, and during the holiday season, the situation always gets worse.”

Amanpreet Kaur, 28, is a flight attendant in the Rohini area of ​​Delhi. He recently took a flight from the United States and was shocked by the difference in air quality.

“When I returned to India after taking off from the United States, it was very bad. I kept coughing,” she said.

Kaul said that the haze is very serious, and you can see dirty fog around street lights and car headlights at night.

“When the sun goes down, all you see is smoke, and there is smoke all around,” Kaul said.

“Living in Delhi is very dangerous.”

On November 20, 2021, smoke enveloped the Indian government offices in New Delhi.

“My Breathing Right”

Aditya Dubey, an 18-year-old environmental activist, has been lobbying for urgent action on Delhi’s pollution for the past two years.

Every year, the city is plagued by dark smoke that makes a sore throat, but in winter, the temperature is lower, the wind speed drops, and the particles in the air stay longer and the situation is worse.

“Winter has become a torture, and every day feels like a punishment,” Dolby said. “I have a burning sensation in my eyes, and they start to flow. I feel out of breath.”

Last month, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tried to control pollution levels by banning the setting of firecrackers on Diwali, but most of the celebrations continued as usual.

The smoke of Diwali is exacerbated by a surge in the burning of crop waste in the surrounding farmland.

As of November 5th, most places in Delhi had AQI exceeding 500-the highest level in this category.

At that time, Dolby had had enough.

The activist submitted a petition to the Supreme Court, demanding protection of his “right to breathe.”

On November 15, the court ruled in his favor and ordered the central government to take more measures.

Subsequently, schools were closed, non-essential traffic was suspended, construction projects were stopped, and 6 of 11 coal-fired power plants were ordered to be closed until the end of November.

Due to the slight improvement in air quality in Delhi, the construction project resumed on Monday.

But for many people, the damage has already been done.

In October 2020, morning mist shrouded the skyline of the suburbs of New Delhi, India.

“The Silent Killer”

Delhi is not the only Indian city shrouded in smog.

According to data from the monitoring network IQAir, last year, 9 of the 10 most polluted cities in the world were in India.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution causes approximately 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, mainly due to increased mortality from cardiovascular diseases, cancer and respiratory infections.
A recent study by the Energy Policy Institute (EPIC) of the University of Chicago suggests that bad air could shorten the life expectancy of hundreds of millions of Indians by as much as 9 years.

The study also found that each of India’s 1.3 billion inhabitants suffers from annual average pollution levels that exceed the guidelines set by the WHO.

In 2019, the central government announced the launch of the National Clean Air Campaign, with the goal of reducing particulate pollution by 30% by 2024. Each city has developed specific plans; in Delhi, these plans include measures to reduce road traffic, burning and road dust, and to encourage the use of clean fuels.

But in the past few years, India’s pollution problem has worsened, partly because of the country’s dependence on fossil fuels—especially coal.

At the recent COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, India was one of the countries that pushed for the 11th hour amendment to the agreement to gradually “reduce” coal instead of “phasing out” it.
According to Greenpeace’s analysis of IQAir data, in Delhi, harmful air kills tens of thousands of people every year.

But despite the deteriorating air quality, some Delhi locals have become accustomed to it, and they don’t seem to notice.

Many people wander on the street without wearing a mask and are generally complacent about the pollution level.

Omprakash Mali, a 50-year-old gardener, said air pollution will not affect him or his work.

“We work in the dirt and dust as gardeners, so I don’t have any extra feelings,” he said. “I think the government’s top priority is still Covid-19. Pollution happens every year.”

At the same time, Shesh Babu, an 18-year-old manual worker, said that he “does not really care” about the dense fog in Delhi. His first task is to make money.

Activist Dolby said that air pollution is considered an “elite” problem.

“Air pollution is a silent killer,” he said. “Lack of awareness. People don’t realize its seriousness.”

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