India has long suffered from pollution and bad air quality, but over the past few days, the smog in Delhi has been unbearable. Some parts of the city are reporting smog levels 16 times the government’s safe limit, with the Air Quality Index literally off the charts. Residents have been fleeing the city, and other large cities like Lucknow are starting to feel its effects.
The smog has also made its way to Agra, known for being the site of the Taj Mahal. Tourists are now being deprived of the iconic view of the mausoleum from its surrounding gardens.
The Supreme Court is calling the pollution situation a “disaster” and the Indian Green Tribunal has banned any construction in the region for the next seven days. New Delhi also ordered the closure of a nearby coal-burning plant and has banned diesel-powered generators for 10 days. Experts point to a rapid increase in vehicles and low emissions standards as culprits for the pollution, as well as firecracker smoke from Diwali celebrations. All of this combined with winter wind patterns has left the air stagnant.