Authorities in New Delhi have begun revoking licences of older diesel vehicles and halted construction work, in a desperate bid to combat days of extreme air pollution.
The choking smog, which is several times over the safety limit has left the Indian capital shrouded in a heavy haze, forcing officials to shut the city’s schools.
“We have polluted ourselves to an extent where the air is completely toxic. It is beyond measurable limits, crossed all limits of human imagination or the imagination of our machines that were supposed to really calculate how polluted our air is,” said environmental campaigner Vimlendu Jha.
The pollution is the worst to hit New Delhi in 20 years and has got so bad that machines designed to register the air quality are no longer able to take any measurements.
The regional government is advising people to stay indoors and work from home if possible.
“All measures are being taken. For the first time, Delhi’s roads are being washed. Water is being sprinkled on the roads to prevent dust from rising. We are taking every possible measure to curb this pollution,” New Delhi’s Health Minister Satyendra Jain said.
A combination of car emissions, fireworks from the Hindu festival of Diwali, dust from building sites and the burning of farm residue in surrounding states have all combined to engulf the Indian capital.