'River of smoke' seen over Delhi, nearby areas due to farm fires; NASA shares pic

'River of smoke' seen over Delhi, nearby areas due to farm fires; NASA shares pic

The entire area around the national capital is seen with high levels of air pollution.

American space agency NASA has shared images of farm fires in India, which have led to a sudden spike in the levels of air pollution in Delhi-NCR and its neighbouring areas. Taking to Twitter, NASA shared an image that shows 'red dots', representing large-scale fires in Punjab, Haryana, and parts of Pakistan. The entire area around the national capital is seen with high levels of air pollution.

Reacting to the post, NASA scientists said that on this particular day at least 22 million people were affected by the thick smoke which was produced by the fire burns. "Looking at the size of the plume on November 11 and the population density in this area, I would say that a conservative estimate is that at least 22 million people were affected by smoke on this one day," said Pawan Gupta, a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

This comes as Delhi battles the heavy smog which has engulfed the city completely, leading to an increase in several respiratory diseases. The state government has also ordered all the schools to remain shut until further notice. On Friday, the national capital registered its air quality in the "very poor" category. However, experts have predicted that strong surface winds are likely to bring some relief from high pollution levels Sunday onwards, authorities said. The city recorded its 24-hour average air quality index at 347, down from 375 on Wednesday.

Neighbouring Faridabad (349), Ghaziabad (360), Greater Noida (308), Gurugram (323), and Noida (336) also recorded their air quality in the 'very poor' category. "The air quality is likely to improve significantly from November 21 owing to relatively strong winds and reach poor category. PM2.5 to be the predominant pollutant," the central government's Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi said.

Air Pollution 'A New Challenge For India': What Is Government Doing?

According to the reports, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) has issued 140 challans worth over Rs 18 lakh against violators so far in November in its bid to curb air pollution in the area.

'River of smoke' seen over Delhi, nearby areas due to farm fires; NASA shares pic
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  • EDMC has constituted several teams to carry out field inspections to keep round-the-clock vigil against garbage burning, biomass burning, illegal dumping of construction and demolition (C&D) waste, and polluting industrial activities.

  • Several water sprinklers have also been deployed to control dust pollution by spraying dust suppressants.

  • Delhi government has imposed a complete ban on construction activities in view of rising pollution levels.

  • Punitive action is being taken against both institutional entities as well as individuals contributing to air pollution.

  • A special drive has been launched to monitor and prevent activities adding to air pollution in the areas of Sonia Vihar, Karawal Nagar, and Wazirabad Road.

  • Individual owners and builders found continuing with construction activities have been issued heavy challans under National Green Tribunal Act and Environment Protection Act.

How Air Pollution Is Affecting Your Health

Air pollution is dangerous for your health, it can damage your lungs completely which can further lead to several other chronic diseases. According to health experts, one-third of deaths from stroke, lung cancer, and heart disease are due to air pollution. How does that happen? So, when you inhale pollutants, they slip past your body's defences, penetrating deep into the respiratory organs and circulatory system, thus causing severe damages to the lungs, heart, and brain.

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