Over the last few days, Delhites are gasping for fresh air as they choke in acrid smog. While efforts are being made to reduce air pollution, it's far from making any change in the day-to-day lives of the people living in and around the national capital. Stubble burning, vehicle pollution, industrial and construction activity, and fireworks are seen as the contributors to the worsening condition of Delhi's pollution crisis. However, there's some contribution from Pakistan as well, which cannot go unnoticed.
NASA has released satellite images showing a river of smoke from farm fires in India flowing over Delhi, which has led to a spike in the levels of air pollution. The American space agency shared the photos on Twitter, showing red dots on a map of Northern India, which represent large-scale fires in Punjab, Haryana and parts of Pakistan.
PAK contributing to Delhi's smog
The highest number of red dots in the entire area are around the national capital, but the contributing factors are not isolated to just Delhi. But the red dots representing farm fires can also be seen scattered in neighbouring areas, including Pakistan.
Pakistan's contribution to Delhi's smog cannot be ignored in the current situation, requiring India's neighbouring country to take proactive measures to reduce the contributing factors to air pollution.
In fact, a separate report revealed that Pakistan's air pollution crisis is worse than India. The capital of Pakistan's largest province in terms of population, Lahore, is witnessing the worst air quality and has become one of the worlds most polluted cities, choking the residents.
Lahore has been declared the most polluted city in the world by IQAir, a Swiss technology company that operates the AirVisual monitoring platform. With a recorded air quality ranking of 348, which is above the hazardous level of 300, residents are choking in acrid smog, calling on the authorities to find a solution.
How this affects millions of people
Going by NASA's figures, the cumulative air pollution in the Delhi region and neighbouring areas affects an estimated 22 million people. The effect is equally damaging on the other side of the border, where millions of people are below the poverty line and the PAK government has turned a deaf ear to their complaints.
Adjoining India through the Punjab province, air pollution plagues both the countries, keeping them on top of the pollution table. Residents of Lahore, at least 11 million people, many of whom are under the poverty line, say the ongoing breathing problems due to air pollution are causing major issues for poor families as they cannot afford to pay doctor's fees.
"We are poor people, can't even afford a doctor's charges. We only plead with them to control the pollution. I am not a literate person, but I have heard that Lahore has the worst air quality and then comes India's Delhi. If it continues like this, we will die", said Saeed.
Residents say despite the legal recourse, authorities have been very slow in acting or have opted to put the blame on India or claim that the figures quoted are exaggerated.