Pollution in Delhi: Authorities in India start draconian measures

Written by By Staff Writer, Tom Allard, CNN New Delhi

In the toxic Indian capital, authorities are preparing to introduce emergency measures to get the country’s booming middle class to cut down on the use of diesel-powered generators and other polluting equipment as the death toll from the smog worsens.

The State Environmental Protection Agency is talking to the Delhi state government about enforcing strict pollution norms on diesel generators, firecrackers and installations such as power plants and brick kilns to cut the number of vehicles on Delhi’s roads, said EPA Chairman A.S. Guleria.

Five Mumbai hospitals have started emergency air purification treatment, said Mulayam Patil, the Deputy Commissioner of West Region of the state health department.

“This means every domestic, school, college and hospital in the state will need to buy pollution abatement devices to treat contaminated air,” he said.

Figures released Friday by the Union Health Ministry revealed that the number of deaths due to respiratory diseases has jumped by 38% since last year.

Doctors blame the increase on the pollution, as farmers burn crop residue in neighboring states after harvesting, and the use of large diesel generators and other generators to pump water from local wells in the capital region.

Pollution levels in the Indian capital are dangerously high and have regularly surpassed 300 on air quality index (AQI) — the metric used by government agencies to measure pollution, with any reading above 300 considered hazardous.

An Indian National Bureau of Meteorology (INMET) estimate late last week showed Delhi should experience a period of substantial haze in the coming days until heavy rains wash off pollution.

On Monday, the capital experienced the worst pollution since 2015, according to a tweet from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Meteorology

Health officials said the levels of dangerous particulate matter (PM) in Delhi were three times the prescribed annual limit on Thursday, and 87 times the limit on Wednesday.

Unusually thick smog drifted over the city for several days in November.

A series of unexplained fires sparked by farmers in neighboring states — often believed to be lit accidentally — and the continued use of diesel generators to flush out sewer lines and water bottling plants was cited as contributing factors to the pollution.

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