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Delhi Facing Worst Smog in Past 17 Years, says Centre for Science and Environment

Many schools across the city have either shut down or ended all outdoor activities

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FILE - A man covers his face as he rides in front of the landmark India Gate, enveloped by smoke and smog, in New Delhi, India, Oct. 31, 2016. As Indians wake to smoke-filled skies from a weekend of festival fireworks for the Hindu holiday of Diwali, New Delhi's worst season for air pollution begins, with dire consequences. VOA
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New Delhi, November 5, 2016: Even for a city considered one of the world’s most polluted, the Indian capital hit a new low this week.

Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard.

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According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years. The concentration of PM2.5, tiny particulate pollution that can clog lungs, averaged close to 700 micrograms per cubic meter. That’s 12 times the government norm and a whopping 70 times the WHO standards.

The Delhi winter, once a glorious time of clear, crisp days that meant holidays and weekends spent picnicking in its many public parks, is now a time of annual health woes.

As millions struggle with hacking coughs and burning eyes, many schools across the city have either shut down or ended all outdoor activities. Doctors have asked people to stay indoors during the worst days.

An Indian woman looks for air pollution mask inside a shop in New Delhi, India, Nov. 4, 2016. A new report from UNICEF says about a third of the 2 billion children in the world who are breathing toxic air live in northern India and neighboring countries. VOA
An Indian woman looks for air pollution mask inside a shop in New Delhi, India, Nov. 4, 2016. A new report from UNICEF says about a third of the 2 billion children in the world who are breathing toxic air live in northern India and neighboring countries. VOA

Yet many of the problems that turn Delhi’s air so toxic continue unabated. People still set off massive amounts of festival fireworks, piles of garbage burn all night and dust from the construction projects that dot the city is unchecked.

And at the start of every winter, farmers in the states bordering the city begin burning straw from their rice paddy crop to clear the fields for planting wheat.

“Sources of pollution in Delhi and outside of Delhi have exponentially increased in the last couple of days,” said Polash Mukerjee, a research associate with the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based research and lobbying organization.

He said that wind direction is blowing toward Delhi from all directions, especially from Punjab and Haryana, “where there are large incidences of crop fires that we are detecting even today.”

Limits on trucks

Over the last two years, the government has tried a slew of measures to control air pollution, including stricter emission norms for cars and a tax on diesel-fueled trucks that enter the city.

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New Delhi also has attempted to limit the number of cars during the winter months, when air quality is at its worst. Twice the city imposed a two-week period in which cars were allowed on the roads only on even or odd days, depending on the vehicle’s license plate number.

Last month, the city launched a smartphone application called “Change the Air,’’ inviting residents to send photos and complaints about sources of pollution, from the burning of leaves and garbage in public parks to construction crews working without dust control measures.

But despite announcing new measures, the city has struggled with enforcing them on a regular basis.

Regulations unenforced

One of the biggest struggles is crop burning in neighboring areas, where despite attempting to enforce cash fines on farmers enforcement has been hard. For the farmers, it’s cheaper to burn rice paddy straw than hire people to carry it away.

“Pollution is also caused by diesel cars, factories, and many other sources. Farmers only do this for one month of the year,” said Bijendar Singh, a farmer in neighboring Haryana state, as he watched his paddy straw burn.

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“It is a compulsion for farmers to do this. Because of this compulsion, we spread air pollution. As much as it harms the people sitting in Delhi, it harms us and our children even more,” he said.

CSE’s Mukerjee said that the government hasn’t worked out a strategy to help farmers dispose of their crop waste.
“Paddy straw that lies in your field today, as a farmer, it is absolutely worthless to me. I don’t earn anything out of it. Why should I spend money collecting it?” Mukherjee asked. (VOA)

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10 Best Places To Visit In Delhi

The capital of India, Delhi is one massive city where you can find people from all walks of life.

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Delhi has many places which you must visit to get yourself acquainted with history and culture of India as a whole. Wikimedia Commons
Delhi has many places which you must visit to get yourself acquainted with history and culture of India as a whole. Wikimedia Commons

By Ruchika Verma

  • Delhi is the capital of India and attracts tourists from all walks of life
  • Delhi has many tourist destinations which attract all kinds of people
  • Delhi has something for everyone and has many places which one can visit

The capital of India, Delhi is one massive city where you can find people from all walks of life. Delhi is full of culture and history, it has something for everyone who comes to visit or live here. From modern nightclubs to old, historical monuments, there is nothing you won’t find in Delhi.

Delhi is one of the major tourist attractions of India. Wikimedia Commons
Delhi is one of the major tourist attractions of India. Wikimedia Commons

Delhi has various places which one can visit. You can be a religious person, history buff, science nerd or an art enthusiast or anything else, Delhi will definitely have something to offer you. Here is the list of 10 best places to visit in Delhi to quench your thirst for history, culture and entertainment.

India Gate

India Gate is one place which you definitely shouldn’t miss while you’re in Delhi. India Gate is one of the best places to visit in Delhi because of its beautiful parks and the ever-burning ‘Amar Jawan Jyoti.’ The area around India Gate is one of the cleanest and you should definitely not miss it during the evening when the place is full of food, people and jest.

India Gate is one the best places to visit in Delhi. Pixabay
India Gate is one the best places to visit in Delhi. Pixabay

Qutub Minar

One of the world’s tallest building, Qutub Minar has beautiful architecture and lots of history attached to it. You can click photographers, sit in the lush green lawns and enjoy amazing food while you’re in its compound. You can also visit Chhatarpur Temple near it, which is yet another place to visit in Delhi.

Qutub Minar is surrounded by lush green garden on all sides. Wikimedia Commons
Qutub Minar is surrounded by the lush green garden on all sides. Wikimedia Commons

Swaminarayan ‘Akshardham Temple’

Akshardham Temple is a relatively new tourist attraction. It is one of best places to visit in Delhi because of its beautiful architecture and peaceful environment. The temple will not disappoint you even if you’re not a religious person. The museum inside is definitely worth a visit as it takes you through various ages of India’s development.

Hindu Temples
Akshardham Temple is one the must-visit places in Delhi (www.akshardham.com)

Red Fort

Red Fort is another one of the tourist’s favourite destination to visit in Delhi. It is of great significance historically and politically. It is one of the top names when it comes to Delhi’s points of interest. In the day you can visit museums and soak the history while at night, you can enjoy the fabulous light and sound show.

Red Fort in Delhi is a place for both the history and political science buffs. Pixabay
Red Fort in Delhi is a place for both the history and political science buffs. Pixabay

The Bahai or Lotus Temple

Lotus Temple is definitely one of best places to visit in Delhi. It is a heaven for all the photographers out there. It is also famous for its quiet and tranquil environment. It is one of the best places to visit quietly and meditate in Delhi.

Night view of Lotus Temple. Wikimedia Commons
Night view of Lotus Temple. Wikimedia Commons

Jama Masjid

If you’re talking Delhi, you just can’t forget to mention Jama Masjid. Jama Masjid is huge and is famous for its beautiful architecture. You can sit in its compound for as long as you like and can even enjoy a picnic there with your friends or family. You can also climb up the tall Minar which will give you a full view of Old Delhi. Near it, you can visit Kebab shops and restaurants which will serve you with some of the best Mughlai food ever.

The Jama Masjid is not only a place to worship but also a place to enjoy small picnics to enjoy with friends and family. VOA
The Jama Masjid is not only a place to worship but also a place to enjoy small picnics to enjoy with friends and family. VOA

Chandani Chowk

Chandani Chowk is the economic hub of Delhi. From clothing to food, there is nothing you won’t find here. Visit the ‘Paranthe Wali Gali’ to experience some of the best Delhi food. You can also visit the famous ‘Old and Famous Jalebi Wala’ for a Jalebi and Rabri combination like never before. The place may seem crowded but it is definitely worth a visit if you really want to experience the essence of Delhi.

Chandni Chowk is famous for the amazing food which one can get there. Wikimedia Commons
Chandni Chowk is famous for the amazing food which one can get there. Wikimedia Commons

Purana Quila 

When we are talking about the best places to visit in Delhi, we just cannot forget the Old Fort. It is one of the most ancient and largest forts in India. It spans around in an area of 2 km. You can enjoy sightseeing and learn about the place. Apart from that, you can also enjoy boating in the lake inside the Old Fort.

Also Read: 10 llittle-knownfacts about Delhi Metro which makes it distinct

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

Located near the Connaught Place, Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous tourist places in Delhi. It is beautifully structured and the lake in the middle is where you can sit comfortably and enjoy the view of various fishes inside it. Near the Gurudwara, you can also visit the famous Hanuman Mandir on one side and the Sacred Heart Cathedral Church on the other.

Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous place of worship of Sikhs in Delhi. Wikimedia Commons
Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous places of worship of Sikhs in Delhi. Wikimedia Commons

National Rail Museum

There are a plethora of museums which you can visit in Delhi, but out of all those National Rail Museum stands out because of a variety of rail models – be it static or working, or small or big. You can also enjoy a toy train while you are visiting the museum!