India’s state-run NTPC is launching bids for clean technology for two coal-fired power plants near New Delhi, officials said, as criticism mounts over the country’s failure to end a toxic smog which strikes the capital every winter.
But environment activists said the measures were too little and too late.
Illegal crop burning in farm states surrounding New Delhi, vehicle exhaust in a city with limited public transport, industrial emissions and swirling construction dust have caused the crisis, sparking a public health crisis.
Sri Lanka cricket players wearing masks in an attempt to protect themselves from air pollution as Indian captain Virat Kohli (2L) and teammate R. Ashwin look on during the second day of the Test match in New Delhi. (AFP)
On Tuesday, two cricketers threw up on the field during an India-Sri Lanka Test match as a toxic haze blanketed the stadium and Sri Lanka, whose players wore masks, said it had complained to the International Cricket Council.
There is also concern about an Indian Super League soccer game on Wednesday night where players may have to wear masks, one of the team coaches said.
A task force headed by a top aide to Prime Minister Narendra Modi is driving a set of measures aimed at reducing pollution by next winter, a government source involved in the efforts said.
Besides the $215 million plan to clean up sulphur emissions from the Dadri and Jhajjar power plants, the task force has ordered the opening up of an expressway skirting the capital that will ensure trucks don’t have to transit the city.
Vehicle emissions account for 30 percent of Delhi’s pollutants topped by PM 2.5, or tiny particles that lodge deep in the lungs causing respiratory and other diseases. More than 50,000 lorries pour into the city each night.