In a stark revelation, NASA’s latest satellite imagery has exposed the growing threat of toxic smog in Northern India, with Delhi at the center of an imminent air pollution crisis. The visuals from NASA Worldview depict a thick layer of smog engulfing the northern plains of India, indicating a broader environmental challenge that extends beyond Delhi.
The origin of the smog is complex, potentially arising from various sources of pollution, including a surge in farm fires in Punjab and Haryana. Recent data from NASA reveals a staggering 740% increase in these fires, raising concerns about their contribution to hazardous air quality.
Delhi finds itself trapped in a relentless cycle of worsening air quality, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) consistently remaining in the “severe category.” Vehicular emissions and smoke from stubble burning in neighboring states are major factors driving this crisis.
The impact of the deteriorating air quality is not limited to Delhi alone. Neighboring cities such as Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Noida, Greater Noida, and Faridabad are also grappling with alarming AQI levels. The severity of the situation demands immediate attention and decisive action.
In response to the severe air quality, the Environment Minister, Gopal Rai, has announced a contingency plan of artificial rain through cloud seeding. Collaborating with scientists from IIT-Kanpur, the government plans to execute a pilot project if specific cloud conditions are met on November 20-21.
Expressing grave concern, the Supreme Court has directed an immediate halt to stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, and western Uttar Pradesh. The court has held local authorities accountable for preventing crop burning and has emphasized the malfunctioning of previously installed smog towers, calling for swift repairs.
In addition, the Delhi government has reinstated the odd-even rule from November 13 to 20 to manage traffic and reduce vehicular emissions, thereby alleviating the burden on the city’s polluted air.
The health risks associated with the worsening air quality are amplifying, with residents and commuters in Delhi reporting breathing problems. The Air Quality Index soaring above 400 poses significant threats, especially to those with respiratory issues.
As Northern India continues to grapple with this escalating environmental crisis, there is an urgent need for coordinated efforts and innovative solutions to address the severe air pollution problem.