1. Introduction1.1 The Great Smog

“The Great Smog in Delhi” is an ongoing severe air-pollution
event in New Delhi and adjoining areas in the National Capital Territory of
India. Air pollution at this time peaked on both PM 2.5 and PM 10 levels. It
has been reported as one of the worst levels of air quality in Delhi since
1999.

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Low visibility has resulted in accidents across the city,
notably a 24 vehicle pile-up on the Yamuna Expressway and also led to
cancellation and delay of public transport, primarily trains and flights, causing
much hindrance to the people.

1.2 Sources of pollution

The current majority of analysis sources are hinting towards
colder weather, stagnant winds trapping the various sources of smoke. The
primary sources of smoke are stubble burning, lit garbage, road dust, power
plants, factories, and vehicles.

Air quality can be measured by the amount of PM 2.5 and PM 10
particulates suspended in air. On Nov 7, 2017 the PM 2.5 levels in Delhi shot
up to 999, much above the recommended 60 micrograms. At the same time PM 10
shot to 999 (the maximum level for the monitors), instead of the recommended
limit of 100.

Again on 8 November 2017 the PM 2.5 levels shot up to 449
(recommended is 60 micrograms). At the same time PM 10 shot to 663.

1.3 Incident and
State Reaction

During the second day of third test of Sri Lankan cricket
team in India in 2017-18 at Delhi, smog forced Sri Lanka cricketers to stop
play and wear anti-pollution masks. Cricketer Lahiru Gamage reported to have
shortness of breath. Nic Pothas, coach of Sri Lankan cricket team, reported
that cricketer Suranga Lakmal had vomited regularly due to severe pollution
effect on the Delhi ground. There was a halt age of play between 12:32 pm to
12:49 pm which caused Indian coach Ravi Shastri to come out in an aggressive
manner and have a talk with the field umpire David Boon.

A Health Emergency was declared in capital by the Central
Government of India in order to cope with the extrusive amount of polluted air.
The day was declared as a holiday for Schools, offices and other government
centers.

1.4 Health effects and control measures taken by the government

The government of Delhi has declared a health advisory as the
public is seen suffering from the following health issues:

·        
Breathlessness

·        
Chest constriction

·        
Irritation in eyes

·        
Asthma

·        
Allergy

Control measures

The Chief Minister of Delhi has come up with the following
proposed action items to attempt to reduce the air pollution:

·        
Closing the schools
for that specified period of time.

·        
Shutting down of all
the construction and demolition work for a certain specified period of time.

·        
Banning all the diesel
generator sets for the specified period, except at hospitals and in
emergencies.

·        
Shutting down of the
coal-based Badarpur power plant for ten days resulting in the prohibition of
the fly ash transportation from the power plant.

·        
Launching of an app
by the Environment Department to monitor the burning of leaves.

·        
Vacuum cleaning of
roads.

·        
Water sprinkling on
all roads for the next following days.

Longer term measures

·        
On November 25,
2016, the Supreme Court of India banned the sale of firecrackers in Delhi to
alleviate pollution.

·        
In another measure,
the Badarpur power plant was ordered to remain shut until at least January 31,
2018. This power plant is very old and polluting, and even before the Great
Smog, environmentalists had advocated for its permanent shutdown.

 

1.5 What this research proposal will help us understand?

This report provides an evidence-based insight into the
status of air pollution in Delhi and its effects on health and control measures
instituted.  Vehicular emissions and
industrial activities were found to be associated with indoor as well as
outdoor air pollution in Delhi. Studies on air pollution and mortality from
Delhi found that all-natural-cause mortality and morbidity increased with
increased air pollution. Delhi has taken several steps to reduce the level of
air pollution in the city during the last 10 years. However, more still needs
to be done to further reduce the levels of air pollution.

 

 

 

2. Literature review2.1 Articles Considered:

1.       Delhi
Smog 2012: Cause and Concerns by George MP, Jasmine Kaur B, Ashish Sharma and
Sandeep Mishra

2.       How Delhi became the
most polluted city on Earth by Umair Irfan

The concerns regarding the quality of air
in Delhi has not been something new, but has been doing rounds for the last
couple of years if not more. On 8th Nov, 2017 various monitoring
systems reported a reading of 1,010 which is over 6.5 times the acceptable limit
of 150. Rapid urbanization followed by the influx from neighboring states has
been one of the major causes to this issue. Eminent personalities have resorted
to the use of social media platforms to raise their concerns on this issue. But
with the Chief Minister himself calling the city a gas chamber, we can pretty
much conclude that things have gotten out of hand.

The recent episodes of Sri Lankan cricket
players fielding with protective masks on at Feroz Shah Kotla Ground, Costa Rica’s ambassador to India, Mariela Cruz Alvarez,
describing in a viral blog post how she developed a
serious respiratory infection and had to decamp to South India, United Airlines
cancelling its operations to the capital, the numerous viral videos of cars
involved in pileups on highways, trains getting delayed –all of which were had
poor visibility cited as the reason throws light at how we have been
inefficient in dealing with such a grave situation even with so much of
advancement in the field of technology.

Based on sample data obtained from the
air monitoring systems installed at the following three locations:

1.       Mandir Marg

2.       Punjabi Bagh

3.       R. K. Puram,

We have real time values for PM10, PM2.5,
NO2, SO2, CO, NH3 and O3 available with us. The locations of the sites are such
that there are no major industrial sources located within 5 km around the site.

 

The
air monitoring readings are as seen below:

Delhi’s topography also acts as a basin
that traps pollution — making it impossible for the millions of people in the
region to escape the toxic air. Turns out this oppressive smog is a pungent
combination of an ancient farming technique and the residues of modern urban
living. Much of the pollution is coming from farms in nearby states of Punjab,
Haryana, and Western Uttar Pradesh. With the rice harvest over, farmers
are burning crop stubble — specifically the remnants of the
rice crop to prepare the fields to plant wheat and return nutrients to the
soil. But what’s unique about Delhi’s smog is
that the smoke from the burning outside the city is mixing with pollution
inside the city — from construction, vehicles, and fires the poor use to cook
and keep warm. This mix of rural and urban pollution intensifies in the cooler
winter months and this year’s air currents through the region have been
unusually slow, allowing the dirty air to linger.

Whatever may be the cause, the fact of
the matter still remains that we cannot solely hold the Government responsible
for this issue. Although the approach followed by them is a reactive one, but
instead of politicizing the issue, holding countless protests etc., providing
active cooperation is the only way out of this situation. Failure to do so will
only result in the capital city being put on the world map for the all wrong
reasons.

 

2.2 Articles
Considered:

Air pollution
in Delhi: Its Magnitude and Effects on Health by SA Rizwan, Baridalyne
Nongkynrih, Sanjeev Kumar Gupta

 

The most elaborate and effective study
for examining the effect of the pollutants on the health of the citizens was
conducted by the Central Pollution Control Board in the year 2008 where the
findings were compared with a rural control population in West Bengal.

The findings were pretty shocking as it
was revealed that Delhi had 1.7-times higher prevalence of respiratory symptoms
(in the past 3 months) compared with rural controls (P