United Airlines suspends flights as Delhi struggles to breathe
US-based United Airlines has suspended flights to New Delhi due to its "poor air quality". It has "waiver policies in place for customers who are travelling to/from/through Delhi". It is constantly monitoring weather advisories. Passengers should check its website/app for the latest updates, a spokesperson said. Meanwhile, Delhi's air quality again hit 'emergency' levels yesterday evening after a steady drop in the morning.
Daily life disrupted, rise in hospital admissions
The crisis has remained alarming since a week. Calling it a "health emergency", Anumita Roychowdhury of the CSE said there was a 20% spike in emergency admissions of people suffering lung and heart problems. At least 34 trains have been delayed, 21 rescheduled and eight cancelled, ANI reported. United Airlines became the first to suspend flights to New Delhi.
Slow winds, crop burning worsening matters
Air pollution in Delhi remains at high levels throughout the years, but is complicated further during the winters due to a combination of factors. For one, stubble burning in neighboring states and burning of biomass for heating raise smog levels in the capital. Bursting of crackers during Diwali also contribute. Slow winds this time are preventing dispersal of pollutants.
Authorities resort to emergency steps
The administration has resorted to emergency measures, like temporarily shutting down schools. The Delhi Metro is running extra trips. Parking fees for private vehicles have been increased. Trucks have been barred from entering the national capital. Activities like construction and brick kilns have been banned. The government had declared implementation of odd-even scheme, but has called it off for now saying it isn't ready.