Delhi earned the dubious distinction of becoming the most polluted major city in the world with an air quality index (AQI) of 527 on November 15, as per data by Air Visual on the World AQI rankings.
“Why are people being forced to live in gas chambers? It is better to kill them all in one go, get explosives in 15 bags at one go. Why should people suffer all this?
Instead, a blame game is going on in Delhi, I am literally shocked,” Justice Arun Mishra told Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General for the central government, upon being informed of an increase in stubble-burning cases in recent days.
Ironically, six of top 10 highest polluted cities are in India and its neighbouring countries including Delhi, Karachi, Lahore, Mumbai, Kolkata and Kathmandu, according to another report.
The report by private weather forecasting agency Skymet has also named Kolkata and Mumbai on its list, as the fifth and ninth most polluted cities, respectively, with AQIs of 161 and 153.
The Skymet report has revealed dangerously poor air quality levels at various places around Delhi, including the upscale Lodhi Road area (AQI of 660) and Faridabad (AQI of 708). Other areas were AQIs were measured were Moti Nagar (AQI of 650) and Paschim Vihar (AQI of 629).
An AQI between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 is satisfactory, 101-200 moderate, 201-300 poor, 301-400 very poor and 401-500 is marked as severe/hazardous.
Air quality in Delhi and surrounding areas has deteriorated steadily since the Diwali weekend, leaving the city covered in a thick fog of poisonous fog.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that rules Delhi has repeatedly blamed stubble burning in neighbouring states like Punjab and Haryana for exacerbating the problem. Last month Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called Delhi a “gas chamber”.
The AAP had re-introduced the ‘odd-even’ scheme of road-rationing from November 4 to November 15, but the top court has questioned the efficacy of the initiative.
The other cities on Skymet’s list are from Pakistan, China, Vietnam and Nepal. What should be particularly worrying for Delhi residents is the gap between them and Lahore in second place – Lahore recorded an AQI of just 234.
China’s pollution levels have seen an improvement to the extent that it only comes at the sixth spot with Chengdu’s AQI at 158. Hanoi in Vietnam ranked seventh with AQI being 158, Guangzhou is eighth with AQI at 157. Mumbai is in the ninth with an AQI of 153 and Kathmandu in Nepal is at the tenth spot at 152.