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Delhi shutters schools in response to lethal air pollution

An Indian girl protesting against air pollution in New Delhi, India, on Sunday. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Delhi’s notoriously polluted air has gone from bad to critical.

The Times of India reports that air quality in India’s capital plummeted to its worst level in 17 years. The city imposed emergency measures that include shutting schools for three days and suspending construction for five. A coal-fired power plant was closed for a week-and-a-half. Residents are urged to stay indoors and telecommute when possible. Crop burning and fumes from vehicles and factories are among the causes.

The municipality is considering additional steps, the article says. They include reinstating a temporary ban on half of the 5 million cars that use roads daily.  (Drivers alternated based on whether they had odd- or even-numbered license plates.) Another idea is to artificially induce rain through cloud seeding, which involves firing rockets containing chemicals into clouds to trigger reactions that create precipitation and can clear the air. The Hindustan Times reports that India may want to study China’s experience with this method.

Delhi’s haze is so thick that it is being likened to the Great Smog that choked London for five days in 1952. The Times notes that Delhi’s toxic air already kills 10,000 to 30,000 people annually. Read more about Delhi’s pollution here and here

Times of India

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