New Delhi starts car rationing in a bid to clean up toxic air pollution

The air quality index in areas across New Delhi has surpassed 900, which is far beyond the 500 mark set by the World Health Organization.

    2019/11/05

NSFW    NEW DELHI — New Delhi is set to combat toxic smog in the city by banning cars with odd and even number plates on alternating days starting from November 4 to November 15.

Those who ignore the order will be fined 4,000 rupees, or roughly US$56, BBC News reports.

New Delhi's car rationing system was previously used in 2016 and 2017, though it's unclear if the plan successfully brought down the city's pollution levels.

According to Reuters, the air quality index which measures levels of PM2.5 in areas across New Delhi has surpassed 900. This has far exceeded the 500 mark which is deemed as "severe" by the World Health Organization.

Authorities in New Delhi have ordered schools to be closed until November 5 and have also ordered all construction work to be halted until further notice.

The World Health Organization states that continual exposure to PM2.5 particles increases a person's risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and even lung cancer.

Factors such as farmers from nearby states burning their crop stubble before winter to clear their fields, and industrial and construction emissions all contribute to worsening pollution levels in New Delhi during wintertime, according to Reuters.

The issue is exacerbated as people celebrate the Hindu new year Diwali, usually at the end of October or early November, and set off fireworks.

The pollutants linger in the atmosphere and accumulate instead of dissipating due to the wind changing direction after the monsoon season and colder air from the Himalayas.

Instead of stronger winds blowing from the east and clearing the air, softer winds blow from the northwest and move the pollutants towards New Delhi and other north Indian cities. During the same time, cold air from the Himalayan mountains descends to New Delhi and other north Indian cities, essentially trapping the toxic pollutants in the cold air.

A report by AirVisual, a company that tracks air quality around the world, found that New Delhi was the most polluted capital city in the world in 2018, with Beijing coming in second place.
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