1. Delhi smog not just due to Diwali? One lesson India must learn from Pakistan

Delhi smog not just due to Diwali? One lesson India must learn from Pakistan

"There is a much bigger perpetrator that is causing the air of Delhi to deter at such hazardous levels. The weather plays a very minute yet a pivotal role in making the air of Delhi hazardous but blaming it sole on weather or the bursting of crackers during Diwali is not the correct way to go about it."

By: | New Delhi | Published: November 3, 2016 3:05 PM
 The National Air Quality Index also reported air quality in Delhi at ‘severe’, with PM 2.5 being the prominent pollutant.(Reuters) The National Air Quality Index also reported air quality in Delhi at ‘severe’, with PM 2.5 being the prominent pollutant.(Reuters)

Delhi is choking. And everyone is worried sick. They are blaming only Diwali for it! And they are WRONG! Even three days after Diwali, Delhi remains shrouded in thick blanket of smog leading to poor visibility conditions. The capital’s air quality continued to be in the “severe” category despite experts predicting that it would improve to “very poor”. The National Air Quality Index also reported air quality in Delhi at ‘severe’, with PM 2.5 being the prominent pollutant. Pollution peaks in the national capital during Diwali as a hazardous mix of noxious gases and respirable pollutants hang very close to the surface due to low temperature and near-stagnant wind movement. But now the question arises that is it right to put the blame only on bursting of crackers during Diwali for this hazard? Let us take a Pakistani analogy. “Since media/liberals know outrage and not the science behind fog, so they’ll blame Diwali for it. But they don’t burst crackers in Lahore yet,” said a media group about the prevailing situation in this Pakistan city. Yes it may sound a bit awkward but their claim is not wrong.

We have gone through the Pakistani media reports on the current weather of main cities of that country and only found that situation is quite similar to that of New Delhi.

Geo Tv says,

“The spell of dense fog that began yesterday continued to disrupt movement of traffic in Punjab prompting closure of several sections of the motorway on Thursday, officials said. The M2 motorway, connecting Rawalpindi and Islamabad to Lahore, was closed from Sial More to Lahore in the wake of zero visibility due to heavy fog, a spokesman for the Motorway Police said. The M3 motorway, leading to Faisalabad from Pindi Bhattian, was also closed completely due to zero visibility, he added.”

“From Islamabad to Sial Mor, light fog was observed with visibility 80-150 meters and the section remained open. On GT Road, the visibility was 80-140 meters as light fog engulfed Kamonki, yet, it too remained open for traffic. In Lahore, citizens felt it difficult to set out of homes and travel as heavy smog blanketed the city. People complained of sore eyes due to the heavy spell which was continued since yesterday. A 20-member special team of the Punjab government submitted its initial report on smog to Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif on Thursday. The report states that due to the climate change many areas of the city are under heavy fog, advising people to travel carefully. Health experts in the committee recommended that children and elderly citizens should be protected from smog and covered their faces with masks while going out. In case of sore eyes, wash them with fresh and cold water,” the report said.

Another prominent media house of Pakistan DAWN wrote

“Every December, thick fog descends upon Lahore, blocking out the winter sunshine, closing off the motorway after dusk and preventing flights from landing at the international airport at night. The problem has grown worse over the last five years due to the high levels of pollution and poor air quality in the city, created by increasing vehicular and industrial emissions. Even during the summer months, there is now a permanent haze hanging over the city that is only relieved when it rains and the pollution is washed away for a short while.”

So, when our neighbouring country is also bearing the brunt of nature, now look at the scientific reasons behind this smog.

Private weather forecaster Skymet says, “There is a much bigger perpetrator that is causing the air of Delhi to deter at such hazardous levels. The weather plays a very minute yet a pivotal role in making the air of Delhi hazardous but blaming it sole on weather or the bursting of crackers during Diwali is not the correct way to go about it.”

“Upon considering various factors that may have induced such smog over Delhi, the results are startling as cracker burst during Diwali adds just a quarter to the smog that has engulfed the city. Stubble burning or crop burning is an age old practice that is widely popular in states like Punjab and Haryana, considered to be the major and hidden culprit that no one is willing to talk about. Straw burning or basically stubble burning is a practice that is followed by millions of farmers across the northwestern states of Punjab and Haryana. The leftover burning of straws has fuelled the smog over Delhi and neighboring areas with an estimation of about 32 million tons of it left. Farmers burn these straws to make room for plantation of winter crops”.

“As of now, there is a law in Indian Constitution that prohibits the burning of straw, but like many laws in the country this one is also overlooked. Given good subsidies in place, and making Happy Seeder affordable for the farmers, is a small but effective step towards a clean air,” the report said.

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