World’s Dirtiest Air Makes Delhi Push People to Work From Home

Source: By Archana Chaudhary, Bloomberg • Posted: Sunday, November 6, 2022

India capital halts construction work in a bid to control smog Doctors says Covid has worsened breathing complaints

Smoggy conditions in New Delhi on Oct. 25.

Smoggy conditions in New Delhi on Oct. 25. Photographer: Sajjad Hussain/AFP/Getty Images

India’s capital city has appealed to residents to work from home to avoid the toxic smog that has engulfed the New Delhi region, making it the world’s most polluted air.

The move comes after the local government imposed a series of measures, including an unsuccessful ban on burning farm stubble in areas surrounding New Delhi and stopping construction and demolition to avoid dust. Pollution levels spike every winter in part due to this practice and these reach multiple times the global safety threshold.

The air quality index for the city state rose to 551 before easing to 409 by 2pm local time, which was still the world’s worst, according to website IQAir. The readings were well above 300, which is considered hazardous.

Despite some attempts by the federal and state governments, millions struggle to breathe through the worst months of polluted and smoggy air each year. Across northern India, the bad air shaves off 8 1/2 years from the lives of about 480 million people, a recent study showed.

The worsening smog brings into focus India’s struggles in combating pollution and climate change ahead of the COP27 summit next week in Egypt. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had last year pledged the world’s third-worst emitter will aim to reach net-zero by 2070.

Rai has also urged residents to carpool to help cut vehicular emissions, which account for 51% of the overall pollution levels. The administration also plans to pay construction workers 5,000 rupees ($60.335) as compensation for shutting building sites.

Like it has for many years, pollution has worsened respiratory difficulties in the city, which was among India’s worst hit by the Covid-19 delta variant last year. Children are getting diagnosed with breathing difficulties and persistent cough, according to news reports.

— With assistance by Debjit Chakraborty