Environment Pollution in India on November 08 2017 03:59 AM (UTC).
United Airline, while issuing a travel waiver for its customers with tickets to Delhi from November 9 through November 13, said customers could re-book these tickets on or before November 18 at no additional cost. Concerns of poor air quality over Delhi have prompted foreign governments to put out travel advisories and led to at least one international airline, the US-based United Airline, temporarily suspending its flights citing "severe weather conditions". "United has temporarily suspended our Newark-Delhi flights due to poor air quality concerns in Delhi and currently has waiver policies in place for customers who are traveling to, from or through Delhi. We are monitoring advisories as the region remains under a public health emergency, and are coordinating with respective government agencies," United spokesman Jonathan Guerin said in reply to an e-mail query sent by The Sunday Express. United's flights on this route were cancelled on Friday and Saturday. The 'foreign travel advice' section of the UK government's website, gov.uk, says, "Severe air pollution is a major hazard to public health in Delhi, and a serious concern in many Indian cities. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected." Similarly, the website of the US embassy in New Delhi has termed the air quality in New Delhi, based on PM 2.5 levels, as "hazardous"; the effects of which, the website said, could be "serious aggravation of heart or lung disease and premature mortality in persons with cardiopulmonary disease and the elderly; serious risk of respiratory effects in general population," adding that "everyone should avoid all outdoor exertion". United Airline, while issuing a travel waiver for its customers with tickets to Delhi from November 9 through November 13, said customers could re-book these tickets on or before November 18 at no additional cost. On its website, United said, "When severe weather or other major events... impact our operations, we sometimes issue travel waivers to allow you to change to alternate flights without paying a change fee." Apart from Delhi, United also flies from Newark to Mumbai. The flights on this route have not been cancelled.
The Indian capital declared a pollution emergency on Thursday as toxic smog hung over the city for a third day and air quality worsened by the hour. Illegal crop burning in the farm states surrounding New Delhi, vehicle exhaust emissions in a city with limited public transport and swirling construction dust have caused the crisis, which arises every year. The problem has been compounded this year by still conditions, the weather office said. A U.S. embassy measure of tiny particulate matter PM 2.5 showed a reading of 608 at 10 a.m. when the safe limit is 50. An hour before it was 591. PM 2.5 is particulate matter about 30 times finer than a human hair. The particles can be inhaled deep into the lungs, causing heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and respiratory diseases. Residents complained of headaches, coughs and smarting eyes. "Waking up with a headache, breathlessness and throat irritation every day," Bhavani Giddu wrote on Twitter. Many people stayed home and restaurants in some of the city's most crowded parts were deserted. "I'd like to assure people that the central government shall do everything possible to bring about improvement in air quality in Delhi and the Nation Capital Region," federal environment minister Harsh Vardhan said as authorities faced criticism for failing to take steps to fight a problem that erupts every year. The haze covered India Gate, a war memorial in the centre of the city where Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla paid their respects on Thursday. The city will curb car use next week, the state government said, the latest attempt to clean the air. New Delhi will follow an "odd-even" scheme for five days starting Monday in which cars will be allowed on the roads based on whether their number plates are odd or even. "It is an emergency situation," said Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot. In other measures, commercial trucks have been banned from the city unless they are carrying essential commodities, all construction has been stopped and car parking charges raised four times to force residents to use public transport. Schools have been shut for the week. But experts said these measures were unlikely to bring immediate relief. "There is such a cloud over us that you probably need artificial rain or some such to clear this," said Dr Vivek Nangia, a pulmonologist at Delhi's Fortis hospital. Video images shot by ANI, a Reuters affiliate, showed farmers illegally burning crop stubble in Rohtak, about 65 km from Delhi. Farmers in Haryana, where Rohtak is located, and Punjab, the two big agrarian states surrounding Delhi, burn millions of tonnes of crop waste around October every year before sowing the winter crop of wheat. State authorities say it is hard to enforce the ban unless farmers, a powerful political constituency, are given funds to buy machinery to clear their land. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said in a Twitter post: "Situation is serious but Punjab helpless as problem is widespread and state has no money to compensate farmers for stubble management."