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“Delhi Smog: Schools Shut, Cricket World Cup Shrouded

The choking smog blanketing New Delhi has forced authorities to shutter schools, ground transport and even interrupt the Cricket World Cup. Air pollution in the Indian capital is three times the recommended safe levels, threatening to reach extremely hazardous levels during the coming days. Officials have imposed drastic measures to address the health emergency, including a ban on construction activities and a restriction on the use of private vehicles. Kamaljeet Sehrawat, a leader of the opposition party in the Delhi state legislature, has called on the government to ‘take note of this emergency’. Air pollution in Delhi has become an annual nightmare. Pollutants from car exhaust, burning trash, crop burning, and industrial emissions can worsen when winter cools air and traps pollutants in the valley that holds India’s capital. India’s highest court has banned the sale of fireworks in New Delhi as the air quality has been consistently poor since Diwali celebrations. The air quality index monitors a combination of pollutants, PM v/s O2, SO2, NO2 and & CO, and in New Delhi the score was consistently above 300, triple the safe levels. The Cricket World Cup game between Bangladesh and India was almost cancelled due to the severe air pollution in New Delhi. However, the game was allowed to go ahead as required by the tournament rules. To protest the hazardous conditions, Bangladesh’s cricket team wore face masks while playing. The smog is affecting people’s health, forcing many to wear masks and seek medical assistance. Doctors have reported an increase in patients complaining of respiratory problems including a severe asthma attack, coughing, chest tightness and allergic rashes. The government has issued advice to citizens to stay indoors and switch on air purifiers. Experts also suggest eating foods high in antioxidants which can work to neutralize some of the dangerous pollutants that have been released into the air. The hazardous smog in New Delhi provides a stark reminder of how climate change is creating an unhealthy environment for humans and animals alike. Experts urgently recommend short term measures to clear the current smog, as well as long-term policies to prevent air pollution from worsening.