Let’s fight pollution: Smog over, but the battle against Delhi’s toxic air isn’t

The toxic grey smog, which had enveloped Delhi in early November, might have lifted. The air quality might have improved from its record breaking levels. But the fight against pollution is far from over. Experts say that unless a comprehensive pollution control plan is not implemented, Delhi will be plagued by harmful pollutants that cause debilitating health problems every winter.

The levels of deadly PM2.5 particulate matter crossed the highest-recordable 999-mark this year, more than 16 times the acceptable limit of 60. On November 6, the smog in Delhi was worse than the Great London Smog of 1952, which had jolted the UK into passing the Clean Air Act of 1956. But the state and central governments have still not woken up to the dangers posed by pollution.

Though a slew of emergency measures were announced, the moment a westerly wind blew into Delhi, making conditions relatively better, the authorities moved on to other issues and anti-pollution promises were left unfulfilled. This cycle of pushing pollution to the backburner until the next crisis comes along has gone on for too long. Even this year, experts warn that the worst is yet to come.

Starting today, Hindustan Times launches a seven-part series that looks at why air pollution cannot be fought in a piecemeal or an “emergency” manner. We examine how bad air affects every kind of person living in the city — children and seniors, who are the most vulnerable, are not the only ones affected.

The air we breathe is slowly killing us, even after the smog has lifted. We ask all citizens to join this fight and compel the authorities to change their attitude.

The national capital this year was engulfed by a thick layer of smog after Diwali that did not dissipate for days. As each breath became difficult, Delhiites, especially the elderly and children, were exposed to a range of ailments. The government and authorities seemed powerless and the citizens were left to defend their health, lifestyle and livelihood. Though the smog has dispersed over the last few days due to high-velocity winds, the critical question remains: Is Delhi’s ‘airocalypse’ really over and how is it affecting us?

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