Haze envelops Indian capital as air quality worsens

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Indian capital New Delhi’s air quality hit ‘very poor’ for the very first time this season on Tuesday as residents woke up to a mild orange smog.

Elderly residents of New Delhi said they were suffocating due to the deteriorating quality of air as the burning of crop waste in fields in neighbouring breadbasket state of Punjab sent smoke billowing across the north of the country.

Damini, 61, said the situation would likely worsen after Diwali, where revellers let off firecrackers to celebrate the Hindu festival of lights.

“We feel suffocated. This will worsen after two-four days. It will become difficult for the children who go to school, for people who go to office after Diwali,” said Damini.

New Delhi authorities have banned the sale and use of firecrackers over the festival period for the past two years, along with other measures including controlling waste burning, and the use of anti-smog guns and water sprinklers.

Delhi, a city of about 20 million, is the world’s most polluted capital and particle levels climb steeply during winter months when cold air traps smoke and dust from many sources.