India's smog pollutes Pakistan

Smog in India and Pakistan: Too bad air: Airline suspends flights to New Delhi

The US airline United Airlines is temporarily stopping its flights to New Delhi because the air there is so polluted. The measure initially applies until Monday. Affected passengers could rebook free of charge. 60 flights were also canceled at Lahore Airport in Pakistan.

In Pakistan's Punjab and Multan provinces, one person died and six others were injured as a result of smog. The reason was several car accidents - the visibility on the streets had sunk in the thick fog to only a few meters, as the news portal "Geo News" reported. The hospitals are full of patients suffering from respiratory diseases and eye infections.

It looks no different in the capital of neighboring India. The air quality in New Delhi continued to deteriorate on Sunday, with most of the measuring stations in the 17 million metropolis reporting harmful particulate matter values. The already very high air pollution had worsened significantly in the past week. Many people wore breathing masks.

According to official information, the average concentration of PM10 fine dust was more than 45 times the maximum value which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is still harmless to health on an annual average. The concentration of the even more dangerous particulate matter PM2.5 is, according to the figures of the head of government, on average this month even 75 times as high as the annual average maximum value of the WHO.

Activists last week measured a PM2.5 value of 1501 micrograms per cubic meter of air at the India Gate triumphal arch in Delhi. For comparison: On the day of the highest particulate matter pollution this year, a value of 202 micrograms of the less dangerous particulate matter PM10 was measured in Stuttgart.

Delhi experiences heavy smog every winter as falling temperatures and the lack of wind hold fine dust particles close to the ground. A high humidity of around 98 percent exacerbates the situation, as an expert from the Indian weather authority said. Only on Tuesday and Wednesday should light rain relieve the smog.

One reason for the deterioration in air quality is the actually forbidden burning of crop residues by farmers in the region. There are also heavy emissions from traffic and industry as well as dust from construction sites. In Delhi's poor neighborhoods, people often burn rubbish on the streets to be able to cook.

The US airline United Airlines temporarily stopped its flights to New Delhi on Saturday due to air pollution. The measure initially applies until Monday, it said on the company's website. Affected passengers could rebook free of charge.

In order to reduce the dramatic smog pollution, the authorities in the Indian capital recently decided on emergency measures. Accordingly, all construction work will be stopped indefinitely and only trucks with essential goods will be allowed to drive in the city. The use of diesel generators was prohibited.

A plan to take every second car out of traffic in the coming week, as in the previous year, by only allowing cars with even or odd numbers on their license plates on alternating days, has been canceled. An environmental court had not allowed exceptions planned by the city government for two-wheeled vehicles and women.

The government also closed schools and encouraged seniors, children and people with heart and lung diseases to stay indoors and avoid physical activity. As the deputy head of government of the capital region around New Delhi explained, it is also being considered to use fire engines to spray water in order to get the fine dust particles out of the air.