MOSCOW, October 26 (RIA Novosti) - New Delhi has been suffering from severe smog over the last week, as millions of the city’ residents set off fireworks to celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, France24 reports.
The festivities contributed to an increase in pollution levels in India’s capital, which is considered the dirtiest city in the world. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the level of air pollution in New Delhi is ten times its maximum recommended limit; the concentration of so-called airborne particles – or PM2.5 - reaches 153 micrograms per cubic meter, Reuters reported. According to numerous studies, when the number of airborne particles reaches this level, it has a negative impact on human health and may cause cardiovascular diseases and cancer in the long run.
The major factors facilitating air pollution and contributing to critical environmental conditions include rapid urbanization, growing traffic volumes and increasing industrial emissions, Reuters informs.
"Delhi has a serious problem since its pollution level is anyway very high throughout the year due to rapidly growing number of vehicles," Indian environmentalist Anumita Roychowdhur said, adding that the Indian government has developed a number of initiatives to reduce pollution, including the creation of additional public transport and clean-up projects in public places.
As reported by Business Standard, the “Clean India” campaign, launched by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, is designed to introduce new biological waste processing techniques, build modern sanitation systems and clean India’s streets as well as public spaces.
However, the project won’t be able to reduce current air pollution levels immediately, as much depends on the willingness of the public to commit itself to contributing to air quality improvements, even if it means giving up some old traditions.
"Bursting crackers, the noise, the smog is all part of the so-called Diwali tradition. Modi's 'Clean India' can't change mindsets overnight," an Indian expert said.
Diwali takes place every fall and symbolizes the triumph of light, hope and good. In a country where spirituality constitutes such a cherished part of everyday life, most of New Delhi’s residents are unlikely to give up their customs in favor of newly-introduced reforms.