It was shocking to experience Delhi’s “average day” pollution- the air was thick with the smell of chemicals and one could not see far in the distance. This is a view from my hotel room into the city.
Delhi is particularly bad because of it’s location in the heart of the subcontinent with very little air movement. Cities in Chennai, on the coast, are a little better off due to ocean winds. But a combination of unchecked industrial pollution, huge increases in vehicles (due to increases in Indian middle class wealth), lack of emissions enforcement, and burning of garbage and farm refuse, has increased pollution to dangerous levels in many cities throughout India.
How sad to think of the millions of people breathing this air every day, including small children. I asked a doctor recently about the situation, and she just shrugged and said “What can you do?” Indians (like Americans) feel quite powerless to effect change in the face of powerful corporations, corrupt government, and politicians empty promises. A recent article in the Hindu newspaper summarizes the situation.