The capital of India, New Delhi, has hit a new record high in the levels of air pollution this year. The air pollution in the city has seen an incredible spike over this past Winter, which has raised concerns regarding health issues with citizens, and in particular with the children living there.
Comparisons have been made between New Delhi and other huge cities with similar major air pollution issues, such as the city of Beijing, China, which has long been regarded as the most polluted capital city in the world. The city of Shanghai, China has also not fallen far behind in years past. However, many experts are now saying that the city of New Delhi’s current condition is making China’s polluted cities look clean and pristine in comparison. In addition, China has been working somewhat toward getting a hold on their air pollution problem, whereas environmentalists observing the issue are worried that India is not currently doing enough to fight the new record high that air pollution has hit the country. They claim it is very serious at this point, and hazardous to people’s health. It seems to many concerned observers that no one in India is proposing viable solutions to the problem at this point, and pollution has increased 44 percent from last year.
TIME Magazine has reported a health study that found last year in 2013 that (outdoor) air pollution is the fifth biggest threat to people’s lives in India. The study says that it is responsible for over 600,000 premature deaths in the country, which is six times as many as in the year 2000. In addition, indoor air pollution is said to be the third most common cause of death in the country, most commonly due to fires caused by people cooking in their houses. The pollution in the air is proving to be problematic for the residents of New Delhi in regards to travel and commuting as well. The smog is often preventing the trains and flights from taking off, sometimes delaying them for hours at a time, and has also been causing major pile-ups on expressways and main roads.
Despite these issues, there are many observers who believe that the problem is still not being addressed properly. In Beijing, with the air pollution levels being so high, schools will often shut down to preserve the safety of the children. In India, however, the problem is seen as an inconvenience, but also simply as an everyday life problem. Citizens can not stay simply inside, so they attend school regularly, despite the issue, and go about their lives as normal. Major awareness of the issue has not been raised, nor is it discussed as a serious hazard, and a plan of action or pollution level warnings have not officially been put in place.
One possible avenue for solving the problem lies is with the Supreme Court in India, with its capacity to make environmental decisions that could potentially turn things around. With the air pollution in India hitting a new record high, more people are dying from asthma in India than in any other country on Earth. Even with the gravity of the situation, it is possible that it may take years to be remedied.
By Laura Clark