With over 30 flights being redirected and schools being forced to close, New Delhi is experiencing its annual air pollution crisis. Construction works have been ordered to stop, and the government is handing out 5m masks to the public and advising everyone to stay indoors. A recent announcement from the government environment monitoring agency warns that the condition will not subside for at least two more days due to rain and humidity.
This catastrophic tradition occurs around this time every year, beginning from Diwali, which is usually around the end of August or early of September. The suffocating brown smog that engulfed the city after the festival does not seem to be moving. It is a highly toxic mixture of smoke and debris from firecrackers during the celebration, crop burning from neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana, as well as the cold shift in temperatures trapping the fumes. Unfortunately, the increased urbanisation and rapid construction work happening in the state further aggravates the situation each year. The great number of cars on the road also contributes to the toxic fumes.
Nonetheless, the main contributor to pollution can be seen from satellite imaging which shows more than 3,000 incidents of crop burning in neighbouring states. This was said to contribute 44% of the pollution each year.