Terrifying Photos of Delhi Covered in a Thick Haze of ‘Airpocalypse’

Delhi is in a state of emergency. On November 1, when the public health emergency was sounded off by the Delhi government—leading to shutting down of schools, bursting of crackers and construction sites—there was one common sentiment: Shit has really hit the fan this time.

But the thing is, even though the government has acknowledged the crisis and even belted out the odd-even scheme (in which vehicles’ numbers ending with odd and even numbers get their stipulated days to be on the road) to keep vehicular pollution at bay, this is not a one-off event. This has been happening every year; this week has only been the worst this year. Today, the Supreme Court pulled up the central and state governments to ask why “this happens every year” and “the government doesn’t do anything.”

To give you a clearer picture, every year, between October 28 and November 14, the Delhi smog descends with spooky punctuality. And every year, this time frame is rife with heightened anger and concern. This time around, though, the air quality index (AQI) measures beyond 900 in most places (25 is deemed safe by the World Health Organisation), and visibility is so bad that over 30 flights (and counting) have been redirected with at least 19 cancellations at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

In the middle of this are the residents of Delhi who are experiencing throat infections, stinging eyes, breathing difficulties, and scorched nostrils from the acrid air. A 2018 study showed that 1.2 million deaths in India in 2017 were attributed to air pollution, wherein high rates of lower respiratory infections, heart diseases, strokes, lung cancer, and diabetes were found. Of the 1.2 million who died, 51.4 percent were below the age of 70. Studies also state that Indians have their life expectancy cut short by 5.3 years just because of air pollution. This year, the smog has prompted some to demand a shift of the national capital from Delhi.

As the government and experts hope for the air quality to mellow down from “severe” to “very poor”—quite a long haul, at this point—here are some terrifying images of the city in the middle of an “airpocalypse”.

A man wearing protective face mask rides a bicycle along a street in smoggy conditions in New Delhi on November 4, 2019. Millions of people in India’s capital started the week with choking through “eye-burning” smog, with schools closed, cars taken off the road and construction halted.
Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP

air pollution smog delhi

Tourists cross a road to visit the India Gate under heavy smog conditions, in New Delhi on November 3, 2019. Every winter, the megacity of 20 million people is blanketed by a poisonous smog of car fumes, industrial emissions, and smoke from stubble burning at farms in neighbouring states.
Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP

delhi smog pollution india

A man wearing a protective face mask walks along a street in smoggy conditions in New Delhi on November 4, 2019. Demand for air pollution masks is going up especially the N95 variant, the cost of which ranges from Rs 200 to Rs 2000, depending on the company. Photo: Prakash Singh/AFP

delhi pollution air smog

Volunteers from civil defence get ready to monitor vehicles after the local government ordered half of the city’s private cars to be taken off the road based on an odd-even registration plate system to help reduce air pollution, in New Delhi on November 4. Photo: Prakash Singh/ AFP

air pollution smog

Volunteers from civil defence display a placard to aware drivers on a street after the local government ordered half of the city’s private cars to be taken off the road based on an odd-even registration plate system to help reduce air pollution, in New Delhi on November 4. Photo:
Money Sharma/AFP

delhi smog air pollution

Demonstrations have erupted in the National Capital Region in the light of the terrible conditions of the air quality. This one took place on November 3 in Delhi, in which the protestors demanded the government measures to curb air pollution. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP

 

Follow Pallavi Pundir on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on VICE IN.

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