India’s top green court Tuesday ordered the central government to come up with a common minimum program to tackle pollution within 48 hours and also asked the Delhi government why it did not use choppers to sprinkle water over the city to deal with smog.
“Why did you not use helicopters to sprinkle water over Delhi and its surrounding areas,” the National Green Tribunal asked the Delhi government.
The Indian capital has been grappling with unprecedented air pollution for the past one week, with smoke from burning of crop stubble, fireworks during Diwali (festival of lights), construction dust and vehicle emissions pushing up levels of dangerous particles.
In fact, the levels of PM2.5 — particulate matter less than 2.5 micrograms that can clog people’s lungs — recently soared to over 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organisation and over 15 times the Indian government’s norms.
Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has declared Delhi as a “gas chamber”, blaming crop-burning by farmers in neighbouring northern Indian states of Haryana and Punjab for the smog.
Crippling air pollution has also forced the Delhi government to shut all schools in the city for five days and put a ban on all construction and demolition work for five days. The Chief Minister has also advised people to avoid going out outdoors and work from home if possible.