Video Summary

[LSTV Public Forum] Smog Chokes Delhi

India saw the second highest number of deaths due to air pollution after China in 2013 and lost approximately 1.4 million lives. WHO in 2014 classed Delhi as the world’s most polluted capital with air quality levels worse than Beijing.
By IT's Video Summary Team
November 22, 2017


  • Introduction
  • Present condition in Delhi
  • Reasons for the smog in Delhi
  • Why Delhi only?
  • Concerns
  • What are the preventive measures?
  • Other suggestions
  • Conclusion

Smog Chokes Delhi

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GS (M) Paper-3: “pollution”



  • Dense smog is choking Delhi and not allowing the citizens neither to breath nor see beyond 10 metres.
  • A recent study found that about 5 million Indians die each year due to pollution- the highest number in the world.
  • WHO in 2014 classed Delhi as the world’s most polluted capital with air quality levels worse than Beijing.

Present condition in Delhi:

  • Air quality in Delhi plunged 2 levels that equals to smoking 50 cigarettes in a single day.
  • The air quality was measured as hazardous with the pollutants in the air crossing the permissible standard by multiple times.
  • This was followed by the public health emergency by doctors in Delhi.
  • It is understood that the concentrations of fine pollutants smaller than 5 micro meters, tiny enough to evade the body’s natural filter and permeate the blood-brain barrier are the most dangerous to health.
  • At one point of time, level of Particulate Matter (PM)5 reached 710 micrograms per cubic meter- more than 11 times’ WHO’s safe limit.
  • The condition however worsens in the winter months, when slow winds and cool temperature track pollutants closer to the ground.
  • In 2016 at same time Delhi faced the same situation which was worst in 17 years.
  • The predictions of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is that it will only worsen till the PM 11 which is expected to be the peak.
  • It might go to the worst level under the greater response action plan which would bring total ban on construction and commercial vehicles, complete shutting down of schools and educational institutes.

Reasons for the smog in Delhi:

  • Lot of the seasonal and incidental pollution like paddy burning and fire crackers, is adding in to existing layer of the permanent pollution in the atmosphere.
  • Though the city’s air quality is extremely poor for most of the year due to road dust, other factors include open fires of garbage burning, vehicular exhaust fumes, industrial emissions, and the burning of crop residues in the neighbouring states.
  • Around this time of the year there are certain weather phenomena like dropping of wind speeds and temperatures that does not allow the pollutants to escape and making smog much dangerous.

Why Delhi only?

  • The geographical pattern of Delhi is such that it is at the natural low-pressure zone that extends from Punjab to Western UP.
  • So, anything that happens in this airshed will affect climate of Delhi.
  • Similarly, when there are dust storms in Rajasthan that also affects the air quality of Delhi as well.


  • India saw the second highest number of deaths due to air pollution after China in 2013 and lost approximately 1.4 million lives.
  • In half the Indian capitals, about 4.4 million school children has compromised lung capacity and never totally recovered.
  • The number of vehicles also have gone up multiple times over last decade in Delhi and the cities across the India is facing the same phenomena.
  • The state of the global air reports has pointed out the global exposure and its disease burden and has clearly highlighted that India counts for the highest number of premature death due to ozone pollution.
  • It causes more havoc to the people in the extreme ages like people and aged ones and those who are immune compromised.
  • It causes sleep disturbances, headache, cough, breathlessness, lack of freshness etc.
  • Ultimately all the pollutants effect the immunity of the lungs and immunity of the system as a whole.

What are the preventive measures?

  • It has to be multi composite solution that has to work on various sources of the pollution over the time.
  • Vehicle is just one source. For instance, moving from BS-iii to BS-iv, per car emissions would be reduced to 80%.
  • There should be viable option to use the private vehicles like metros and public transport.
  • There are factors that needs to be worked out year on year as it can’t be solved over the night, as there has to be a long-term vision.
  • The good fuel and engine quality is also the key to reduce the vehicular and combustible pollution significantly.
  • CNG is much healthier than other fuels that can be used.
  • There are masks and purifiers that filters the particulates preventing them to enter the body system.
  • Surgical and ordinary mask are of no use as it is mask called N95 that is required, especially the people those who are susceptible like aged, children’s and patients of respiratory diseases.
  • In air purifier, the air passes through the filter and stop PM, but the air still contains gases so another layer of adsorbent that absorb the gases. So, the air becomes free from PM and toxic gases.
  • It is prerequisite to use the purifier, the room has to be closed, filters to be changed periodically etc.

Other suggestions:

  • Bringing awareness at individual level for the major sources and direct/indirect actions that causes the pollution.
  • Avoiding certain parts of the cities and using public transport where ever it is possible, enforcing and following the rules, planting trees etc. are amongst the other measures.
  • Avoid peak hours of the traffics and early morning and late-night hours walks due to climatic conditions of Delhi.
  • People with bad health should leave the place for temporary time especially the one having severe respiratory problems.
  • As of now people will have to cope with the conditions of the pollution and take the necessary steps to implement them.


  • The air quality has been worsening in the Delhi and there are physical and economical and importantly existential risks.
  • Indeed, now is the time to act….!


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