Every year, winter brings a host of worries for Delhi and its residents. The city gets covered in a smog haze, leaving residents gasping for breath. This year too, the situation is the same, if not worse. People are struggling to take a deep breath and fight respiratory diseases while clutching air pollution masks like a lifeline.
"This morning, visibility was so bad. I moved out to my balcony for fresh air, but couldn't even breathe (properly). There wasn't any other option but to move inside," Shipra Mehta of Lajpat Nagar told IANS.
Schools are being closed and residents have been advised to stay indoors. The air quality has been declared "severe" in 20 out of 21 recording stations. People have reported visibility issues on highways and expressways.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described the place as a "gas chamber" and blamed stubble-burning in nearby states high levels of air pollution.
He further tweeted that he is writing letters to the CMs of Punjab and Haryana for a meeting to seek a solution to crop burning.
The condition of the air has got people extremely worried, prompting them to suggest ways to combat the pollution that is suffocating 19 million Delhi residents.
Suggestions from residents
"The government should push for more public transport. People on their part should also take charge to curb this disastrous problem," said Ashok Narwal, 42, an asthmatic patient.
"Diesel vehicles should be banned and more and more compressed natural gas pumps be installed. People should be encouraged to ride bicycles to cover small distances."
Others said they experienced health issues due to polluted air, including irritation or breathing difficulties during outdoor activities.
"This increasing pollution is taking a toll on the Delhi people. I couldn't go out for my regular cycling today (Tuesday) because of smog," Rajat Verma, 35, told IANS.
Priyanka from Yamuna Vihar also demanded improvement in the public transport system.
"It feels bad when people don't act responsibly even in taking small steps. They don't even turn off their vehicles at traffic red lights," she said.
Harsha Agarwal, 28, blamed Diwali firecrackers for the poor air quality in the region.
"The campaign against firecrackers cannot start a week before the festival nor on Diwali day. People in my locality were bursting crackers even days after the festival. The government didn't take serious steps to control pollution."
According to the data provided by Central Pollution Control Board, the Air Quality Index of Delhi is worse now than it was on October 20, a day after Diwali.
With inputs from IANS