India’s air quality is so bad, breathing in New Delhi is like smoking two packs of cigarettes a day. School has been cancelled. Flights diverted. Car use is restricted, citizens are urged to stay indoors, wear masks and “listen to music” and “eat carrots” in order to stay healthy.

Twelve of the world’s 15 most polluted cities are in India.

burning crops at the end of the growing season is blamed

Ten years ago laws were passed to conserve ground water, which effectively pushed farmers to plant their rice crops in mid-June–during monsoonal rains–rather than at the end of April, as they’d done in the past.

But delaying the planting cycle meant harvesting later, leaving farmers with less time to prepare their fields for the next crop.  Burning was a fast, easy and cheap way to clear the land.

poor air quality comes from  more than just the burning of crops

Coal-fired power plants with little regulatory control, unmonitored auto emissions, and ever-present construction dust settling in the landlocked city all contribute to toxic air that leaves even young people with lung disease and heart issues.

Water quality in India is just as bad. Geek out on it here.

Is India doomed to have environmental issues because it’s a developing country? Let’s check it out.

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