India's capital city, New Delhi, was swept by a thick layer of toxic haze on Friday, prompting school closures into the weekend, halted construction projects, and a ban on the entry of diesel buses into the city.
The Switzerland-based air monitoring group IQAir put the city's air quality index at 611, which is in the "hazardous" category and far higher than the preferred 0-50 range.
India's air quality problem goes beyond New Delhi and into surrounding cities like Mumbai, most likely due to farmers burning rice stubble in Punjab, northwest of the capital. Both the ruling national BJP party and its opposition, the Aam Adami party, which rules Punjab, have seemingly done nothing to tackle this issue. Between that, car exhaust, and incapable governments at the national and state levels, India will continue to endure this annual toxification of their air.
The government, by way of the courts, has already identified the main culprit here as Delhi's forest department — it's also already issued guidelines to prevent such devastating smog. However, the department has disregarded these mandates by continuing to cut down trees in the capital, resulting in lethal record air quality numbers. The city must take responsibility for this and stop poisoning its citizens.