Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
Customers flock to markets selling gifts and sweets for the Hindu festival of Diwali. VOA

It is the time of the year when Indians hit the roads to distribute gifts and sweets to friends and family, visit colorful “Diwali bazars” and party as they gear up to celebrate the main Hindu festival of Diwali on November 7. But in the Indian capital, there is a party spoiler: a deadly haze of pollution that has prompted calls to minimize exposure to the dirty air and is making some pack up and leave the city during the festival.

Grey smog shrouds New Delhi and satellite towns as winter approaches and authorities have advised citizens to avoid strenuous outdoor activity, take only short walks, shut windows, reduce use of private vehicles and wear masks as a precaution.


A range of emergency measures has also been announced to reduce air pollution, such as a temporary ban on construction activity and coal and biomass based industries starting Thursday.


As pollution levels spike, Delhi and its satellite towns are enveloped in a haze of smog. VOA

The measures kick in as the level of PM2, the tiny particulate matter that can dangerously clog lungs exceeded by more than six times the safe limit set by the World Health Organization. Earlier this year, WHO named Delhi as the world’s most polluted megacity — the city and its surrounding towns are home to 19 million people.

“There are pollution hotspots in the city where we have seen levels that are hitting serious levels,” says Anumita Roy Chowdhury, Executive Director, Research and Advocacy at the Center for Science and Environment in New Delhi. “But at least the action has started and we are hoping the emergency response will help.”

The pollution in the city and surrounding towns is a toxic mix of of dust, fumes from vehicles, burning of waste and polluting industries, and has been exacerbated with explosive growth. It worsens at this time of the year as farmers set fire to thousands of hectares of farmland in neighboring states, Diwali revelers set off firecrackers and still winter air keeps pollutants hovering over the city.


A Board shows pollution levels as “very poor” in New Delhi. VOA

Authorities have launched a campaign to prevent farmers from burning crop residue, which helps them prepare the fields for the next harvest without incurring heavy labor costs. The acrid smoke from the fields billows towards Delhi, becoming one of the major triggers for the city’s deadly smog.

State authorities are optimistic the number of fires has been reduced as the government offers subsidies on equipment that enables farmers to plant the new crop with the stubble still in the fields and imposes fines on those who still light up the residue on their fields. But thousands of resentful farmers continue to burn the stubble, saying it is easier to pick up a matchstick and pay the penalty rather than invest in the equipment.

Others grumble the additional expense is cutting into already slim farm profits and leaving their crop more vulnerable to pests like rats.


Customers flock to markets selling gifts and sweets for the Hindu festival of Diwali.. VOA

“We don’t like scorching mother earth, but only when you work at the ground level you know the challenges you face,” said Vinod Kumar, who has a 16-hectare farm in Karnal in neighboring Haryana state. He does not find it viable to plant the new crop with the stubble still standing in the fields. “The taller stubble has to be set on fire.”

Even as crop fires rage, an ease on a ban on firecrackers by the Supreme Court has intensified New Delhi’s pollution worries. The top court rejected calls for an outright ban and said “green crackers” would be allowed for a two-hour window on Diwali.

But many in the country, including shops selling firecrackers, appeared clueless about what is an environmentally safe firework. They are doing brisk business — many in the city are loath to give up the age-old custom, which they see as an intrinsic part of Diwali celebrations despite several campaigns urging people to stay away from firecrackers.


India’s top court has allowed the sale of “green” firecrackers but no one is sure whether those available in markets comply. VOA

Doctors are already advising people suffering from respiratory problems to leave the city and those who can afford to heed the warning are taking it seriously.

New Delhi resident, Pradeep Bhargava, who has suffered bouts of asthma, is taking no chances after last year when pollution spiked to its worst-ever level around Diwali and prompted doctors to declare a “medical emergency” and authorities to shut schools. “The pollution is the major factor that we are heading to the hills, but five days out of the city won’t really help,” he said. “We have to breathe the dirty air through the winter.”

Also Read: Dusshera In Delhi Casts A Dark Blanket, Air Quality Worsens

Many environmentalists agree and point out that emergency measures taken during the smog season will not fix Delhi’s pollution crisis. “Focus now will really have to shift more towards round-the year plan so that those systemic reforms take place so that by next winter we begin to see more substantial changes,” said Chowdhury from the Center of Science and Environment. (VOA)


Popular

Unsplash

Using social media in moderation isn't bad. It becomes a problem when this becomes a habit.

By Dr. Vihan Sanyal

Most teenagers use social media accounts like Facebook and Instagram these days. It keeps a person connected to friends across the globe and gives them a window into the lives of people they are connected with.

Multiple studies have shown that teenagers who use social media excessively do so because they are either bored, need an escape from their immediate physical environment, are feeling overwhelmed and stressed, are lonely, have few real-time friends or need to feel appreciated and validated.

Follow NewsGram on Quora Space to get answers to all your questions.

Using social media in moderation isn't bad. In fact, it can help boost serotonin and other feel-good chemicals in the brain and can help uplift a person's mood. Most people take a selfie of themselves and post it on social media, and feel good about themselves when people like their post and comment on it. It becomes a problem when this becomes a habit. Many people feel compelled to post photos of themselves multiple times a day and then keep checking their accounts for the number of likes they have received.

Keep Reading Show less
Unsplash

Ayurveda consists of set practices and lifestyle habits that work to make one healthy, both physically and mentally. Additionally, the herbs and medicines as prescribed in Ayurveda, are wholly natural and retain the ability to cure most diseases without any side effects.

N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe

Ayurveda, as mentioned, is the science of life. It is not just a set of general suggestions but a way of living life. It consists of set practices and lifestyle habits that work to make one healthy, both physically and mentally. Additionally, the herbs and medicines as prescribed in Ayurveda, are wholly natural and retain the ability to cure most diseases without any side effects.

Ayush Agrawal, Founder and Director of Rasayanam shares some prominent herbs that are renowned for their use in matters of health and wellness are discussed as follows-

Ashwagandha - Ashwagandha, by reducing the cortisol levels, helps control anxiety and stress. Its use is significant in calming the body and psyche of an individual and also helps in regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Ashwagandha is also popularly consumed as a vigor and strength supplement. Further, it aids muscle mass gain and boosts energy levels in people from all age brackets.

Follow NewsGram on Twitter to stay updated about the World news.

Triphala - This over 1000-year-old remedy constitutes three principal ingredients of Amla, Bibhitaki, and Haritaki which are some of the most famous medicinal plants native to the country. Known for its anti-inflammatory and laxative properties, Triphala is also considered particularly helpful in preventing dental diseases and cavities as well as digestive problems. The many medicinal properties of this herb are what make it so well accepted and preached throughout the country.

Brahmi - Brahmi is primarily used for its significant impact on the brain and its functioning. It is said to improve the brain's retention and memory power as well as its spatial learning abilities. Brahmi is commonly utilized to treat and control symptoms of anxiety, stress, and ADHD. Additionally, it is also consumed to reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure levels.

Keep Reading Show less
Unsplash

Here are some simple and efficient yogic techniques to get in shape. It only takes 15 minutes, and you don't even have to leave the house. These asanas can be done from where you are sitting and during short work breaks.

By Shraddha Iyer

With everyone's hectic schedules, we don't even notice how quickly a day passes and our health suffers as a result. How do you incorporate yoga into your daily routine with such a hectic schedule, and what can you practice?

For all the workaholics out there, here are some simple and efficient yogic techniques to get in shape. It only takes 15 minutes, and you don't even have to leave the house. These asanas can be done from where you are sitting and during short work breaks.

Follow NewsGram on Instagram to keep yourself updated.

Sukha Purvaka Pranayama

This pranayama is effortless breathing that focuses on breathing deeply into each section of the lungs, as the name says. There is a strong emphasis on both internal and exterior breath retention.

Steps:

- Simply breathe in for 4 to 6 counts, filling the lungs up.
- Hold the breath, ideally for the same count, or it can be as long as you can.
- Exhale for 4 to 6 counts, holding the breath out for the same time or as long as you can.
- This completes one round.
- You can start with 10 rounds and increase the repetition with practice.

Keep reading... Show less