Plan for air purifiers at Delhi junctions

Toxic air levels rise with Deepavali fireworks, leading to spike in respiratory problems

NEW DELHI • The Delhi government has said that it will install air purifiers and mist-making devices at major road intersections in the Indian capital to curb choking levels of pollution.

New Delhi has been shrouded in toxic air as residents geared up for the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali - also known as Deepavali - which is marked by ear-splitting fireworks that leave days of dark smoke in their wake.

"We are planning to install air purifiers at five major intersections in Delhi to reduce pollution levels," Delhi Health Minister Satyendra Jain said at a press meeting on Friday. "We also want to try to install a mist fountain at one of these intersections... We want to do this at the earliest, maybe within a month or two," he said, adding that the mist will "help pollutants settle".

India's state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research showed levels of PM2.5 particles hovering between "very poor" and "severe" in the past week. These particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter are linked to higher rates of chronic bronchitis, lung cancer and heart disease as they settle into the lungs and can pass into the bloodstream.

Mr Jain urged residents not to light crackers this Deepavali, saying respiratory problems had sharply spiked in Delhi - rated as one of the world's most polluted cities in surveys.

The India Gate monument on Friday. Residents in Delhi had to bear with days of smoke as the city celebrated Diwali - also known as Deepavali - with fireworks.
The India Gate monument on Friday. Residents in Delhi had to bear with days of smoke as the city celebrated Diwali - also known as Deepavali - with fireworks. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Mr Jain urged residents not to light crackers this Deepavali, saying respiratory problems had sharply spiked in Delhi - rated as one of the world's most polluted cities in surveys.

The Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment issued a warning on Friday on "the deadly impact" of bursting firecrackers at the onset of winter, when the air is already saturated.

The government also said it will convert a coal-fired power plant into a waste-to-energy one by December next year.

New Delhi's air quality has steadily worsened over the years, a consequence of rapid urbanisation that has brought pollution from diesel engines, coal-fired power plants and industrial emissions.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 30, 2016, with the headline 'Plan for air purifiers at Delhi junctions'. Print Edition | Subscribe