Over the past week, the National Capital Region of New Delhi, India has had its air quality reach unprecedented levels in its history. The pollution is actually a record in Delhi – the Air Quality Index in Delhi reached as high as 735. For comparison, the Environmental Protection Agency states that a “Good” AQI is 0 to 50, and a “Moderate” AQI is 51 to 100. Clearly, the pollution in Delhi is a looming problem.
India has been known to struggle with its problem of pollution. A common image of India is the common sight of the jam-packed roads, filled with walkers and vehicles alike, moving around with no free space. Though the images have some truth to them, the pollution output of these vehicles is serious. Many of the vehicles Indian citizens use are often old and outdated, posing serious health hazards to the general public and the welfare of the people. India has recognized this issue and has made aggressive movements towards achieving carbon neutrality, but the fruit of these actions has not come to the scene yet.
The recent uptick in pollution is actually seasonal. There are three major factors responsible for the rise in hazardous air pollution. One being the abnormally high humidity. Another, the lack of surface winds which has caused pollutants to remain and not move off, causing them to be locked off in the city. Finally, in relation to the wind directions, pollutants from other cities have been blown into the capital. The current conditions in India caused a perfect storm of these events, resulting in unprecedented pollution in the capital.
On the positive, India is on the right track to combat pollution, as it seeks to modernize its economy away from fossil fuels and large factory output. However promising the future may be, there seems to be a long way to go in the path.