Toxic pollution engulfs Indian capital of New Delhi, posing serious health hazards

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WASHINGTON, Nov. 10 (APP) : Residents in the Indian capital of New
Delhi are bracing for long-term health hazards after being swallowed by a thick layer of toxic pollution, crippling the city and calling for emergency measures to deal with the situation.
Two leading US newspaper Wall Street Journal and the New York Times
reported on the problem in the Indian capital, which has persisted for days and has sent people scrambling for safety gears for their children and old.
Early this week Delhi’s Chief Minister closed about 1,800 public
schools for three days, ordered a 10-day closure of a power plant and imposed a five day moratorium on construction to control the thick fog of toxic air which has engulfed the Indian capital. The Supreme Court was set to hear a public-interest case on the city’s pollution on Tuesday.
Scientists are looking back decades in search of a historical precedent,
to the 1952 Great Smog of London, to see the health consequences of such a poisonous pollution. The London smog believed to have caused as many as 12,000 premature deaths.
According to the NYT report, levels of the most dangerous particles,
called PM 2.5, reached 700 micrograms per cubic meter on Monday, and in fact soared to 1,000 over the weekend in some places, more than 16 times the limit India’s government considers as safe.
“The damage from sustained exposure to such high concentrations of PM 2.5 is equivalent to smoking more than two packs of cigarettes a day,” the report said quoting experts.
The report said that vehicles, construction, crop burning and holiday
fireworks are the persistent source of pollution in the city. The subject falls under the authority of half a dozen city, state and federal government bodies which are often at odds with each other.
The smoke screen has seriously disrupted the normal life as Indians are
trying to stay indoor to avoid being exposed to the unhealthy air, according to the Associated Chamber of Commerce of India. But, it has not working. You open a window, and the blaze enters the room within seconds. New Delhi’s population is about 20 million.
Among the persistent problems for policy makers is that the sources of
the pollution, vehicles, construction, crop burning and holiday fireworks, fall under the authority of half a dozen city, state and federal government bodies, which are in some cases at odds with one another politically, Mr. Krishna said.