New Delhi declares public emergency after city becomes engulfed in haze

  • November 1, 2019

People walk on the Rajpath on a smoggy day in New Delhi, India, November 1, 2019. REUTERS/Anushree FadnavisREUTERS

It is that time of the year again – when New Delhi is blanketed in smog. While Delhi’s air is polluted year round, come November, it is worsened as farmers in the states of Punjab and Haryana burn crop residue to prepare for the sowing season –  plumes of toxic smoke choke the city. Diwali crackers do not make the situation any better.

An index measuring the level of a deadly air pollutant hit 484 on a scale of 500 on Friday, the government’s Central Pollution Control Board, the worst this year.

The index measures the level of PM 2.5, tiny particulate matter that goes deep into the lungs. Anything above 400 poses a risk for people with respiratory illnesses and can also affect even those with healthy lungs.

The situation has prompted the city to issue a public emergency:

  1. Schools are shut until November 5.
  2. People are being advised to stay indoors and avoid activities which require physical exertion.
  3. All construction activities are to be halted until November 5.
  4. Several offices are advising their employees to work from home.
  5. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal offered free masks on Friday.