“you can’t live in this city. Use mask even in the car and at home. But my eyes are still irritated. I go back to Spain this weekend. I have to ensure my pregnancy,” says Judit Algueró, a resident of Delhi and whose employment allows you to work at a distance. Do not have the same fortune the nearly 20 million inhabitants of the capital of India, in risk for the public health emergency that is live since last Friday. The air pollution is so visible today that has forced the diversion of dozens of flights with destination at the airport of the city. Meanwhile, the authorities have added limits to the movement of vehicles as one more way to mitigate the pollution. The experts, however, criticise the lack of implementation of the measures for dealing with a phenomenon that puts at risk the health of millions of people each year.

“Delhi live a health crisis. Not only people with respiratory and cardiovascular diseases is in danger, but also those that are healthy are also exposed to lung problems if they spend time outside,” in account to THE COUNTRY Shambhavi Shukla, research associate at the Program Clean Air and Sustainable Mobility, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE, for its acronym in English), from the capital of India. According to the measurements, the concentration of fine particles (PM2.5) exceeded, today the 600 micrograms per cubic meter, when the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that the levels of these particles, which are harmful to the lungs, not to exceed 25 micrograms per cubic meter. Levels of pollution in the air is equivalent to smoking 50 cigarettes a day, according to some analysis.

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pollution in New Delhi doubles the level considered “toxic” Delhi begin your fight against pollution while burning the field in the neighboring States

due To the severity of the smog toxic that covers the air of New Delhi, the Government announced the restriction of movement of vehicles with license plates odd and even on alternate days for the entire metropolitan area until the next November 15, with fines for violators of€ 50; double that of other years. This joins the cast of five millions of masks and closure of schools; as exceptional measures that municipal Executive decision from that adopted its emergency plan pollution, in 2016. For its part, the Supreme Court of India also ordered the Friday the cessation of the industrial activities with fuels as well as the construction. Measures that, according to the experts, not just met.

“last year, the Supreme court devised a comprehensive plan of action that does not apply; as to prohibit the burning of waste and improve public transport. According to estimates, requires 10,000 public buses in Delhi, but there are only about 5,500 in total. Even if the people you want to leave your private transport, you can’t”, explains Shukla, who underlines that it is only the transport represents 40% of the pollution. The specialist points out that the other major factor in annual pollution is industry, which contributes 20% to the toxicity of the air; aggravated by pollution sources, seasonal. The controlled burning of crops in neighbouring States in the winter and fireworks in Diwali, religious festival held last week, worse weather conditions that produce the accumulation of particulate pollutants close to the ground.

“It violated the directives of the Supreme in relation to the use of firecrackers during Diwali and burning of waste. The prohibition of construction was approved on October 15, but not met”, this journal Tanushree Ganguly, research associate at Council of Energy, Water and the Environment (CEEW, for its acronym in English), who criticizes the pollution measurements carried out by the Delhi Government. In September, the executive of the city announced to have reduced the pollution by 25% between 2016 and 2018, while the experts insisted in the need to shorten it by 65% to reach international standards. “There has been an improvement since then, certainly. But the figures are overestimated. There are more control devices and in more locations. In addition, there are gaps in the data provided publicly by the government.”

Each year, the problem is exacerbated by the interests of the different authorities involved. The critics do not emphasize the discordance between the national executive and of the capital, but the lack of cooperation of the neighbouring states, which produce the controlled burning of crops. “The central Government blames the Delhi, which does the same thing with the neighbouring states. But they do not realize that the problem will not be solved unless they work together to apply the solutions that we propose,” says Shukla. Before the imminence of the elections to the Delhi government, the political partisanship will dull the possible solutions while the pollution darkens the air of this city is vital to the survival of the nation’s capital that will soon be the most populous on the planet and one of the major economic powers.

Pollution beyond the air

The smog muddying the famous and central India Gate, barely visible to the more than fifty meters away, is not the only apocalyptic image that offer the effects of the pollution in New Delhi. As well, the Yamuna river, which bathes the city from west to east, at dawn in winter, covered in froth and foam on the soaked faithful hindus to perform their rituals of Chhath Puja, religious festival celebrated these days. “This foam is the product of chemical reactions, therefore, of industrial origin, although to a lesser extent, by the cleaning products and detergents used by the people on its banks,” explains Bhitush Luthra, assistant director of the Water Programme Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

The expert in the management of water highlights the main problems that have caused the death of one of the main tributaries of the Ganges: “To the discharge (legal and illegal) is attached to the use of pesticides and poor management of septic tanks, which are thrown to the masses of water and that are more damaging than domestic sewage, by their level of toxicity.” As is the case with the pollution that affects the air, the problem is not the lack of legislation to mitigate the destruction of this medium, ” says Luthra. “The Central Board for Pollution Control (CPCB) has approved countless measures, without success. For example, the law requires that all industries have their own waste water treatment plant. But it is not true: well because of lack of manpower or by corruption, the majority ends up pouring their polluted waters into the rivers.”

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