Asia Energy Eniday

Delhi’s air pollution problem

India is home to 14 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities, according to the World Health Organization (WHO)…

Delhi, its capital, regularly suffers winter air pollution levels of harmful particulate matter exceeding 700 mcg (micrograms)/m³, when the amount hazardous to human health is estimated to be 300 mcg. Delhi’s air pollution is the equivalent of smoking cigarettes a day resulting in a reported 6.3 years shortening of life expectancy.
In November 2017, Delhi’s air pollution levels spiked to 40 times WHO safety limits causing a major public health emergency in which schools were shut, foreign diplomats voiced fears that the city could become a “non-family” posting and cricket players in the test match between India and Sri Lanka resorted to using oxygen cylinders.

Why does Delhi have an air pollution problem?

Delhi, like Beijing, is a victim of its own topography and success. Delhi is located on the Indo-Gangetic plain. The city suffers from dust blown from the west from the deserts of Rajasthan and Arabia and emissions from agriculture and industry in the neighboring states of Uttar PradeshHaryana and Punjab. Such air pollution is trapped over Delhi by the Himalayas to the north and the ranges of mountains and hills to the south. Delhi is home to 25 million people and major industries including banking, electronics and textiles. As a result, the city is experiencing a construction boom and major traffic congestion, all of which have exacerbated its air pollution problems.

Economic development

Delhi is a rapidly growing city with a skyline is a forest of construction cranes and building sites for new office blocks, factories and rail lines, fed by trucks hauling building materials and spewing clouds of dust. Industry is said to account for 13 percent of Delhi’s air pollution. At critical levels, the authorities temporarily close the 705 MW Badarpur coal power plantUnreliable power supplies or lack of access to the grid encourage large numbers of city dwellers to rely on diesel generators or kerosene lamps. Continue reading


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