Clear The Air News Blog Rotating Header Image

December 2nd, 2015:

People in Delhi are fashioning their own masks as hazardous smog chokes the Indian capital

The world’s most polluted major city has been blanketed in hazardous, choking smog as climate change talks started in Paris

There was a time when winter in the Indian capital was a glorious thing. Clear, sunny days and crisp cold nights.

No longer. Over the last decade air pollution has grown so rapidly that the cold weather turns the city into a grey, smog-filled health nightmare.

New Delhi has earned the dubious distinction of being the world’s most polluted major city, surpassing Beijing.

unnamed (2)

While the Chinese capital has made progress in spreading awareness about air pollution and is taking steps to address it, New Delhi has barely begun to acknowledge the problem.

But as hacking coughs linger for months and red, watery eyes itch, a slow awareness is developing.

Some people tie handkerchiefs around their mouths and noses and others wear surgical masks.

unnamed (3)

Sitesh Singh drives one of the city’s many auto rickshaws and suffers from asthma. He has started wearing a surgical mask through the winter and says it helps him breathe.

While surgical masks protect from larger pollution particles they do little to filter out smaller PM2.5, the most lethal particulate pollution that can become lodged deep inside the lungs.

While there is scant reliable data on respiratory illness in India, doctors say the number of cases is rising and the ones they see are more serious.

unnamed (4)

Over the last week PM2.5 levels have soared above 300 micrograms per cubic meter on some days, 12 times the standard set by the World Health Organisation.

When air quality hits hazardous levels in China schools may be closed, industries shut down and government vehicles taken off the roads.

India has no such emergency protocols. Anti-pollution laws remain widely ignored and unenforced.

unnamed (5)

Its fledgling air quality index covers only a few cities with a patchy network of monitors that often don’t work.

Globally, air pollution kills millions of people every year, including more than 627,000 in India, according to WHO.

India’s air pollution comes mostly from coal-fired power plants, crop burning, domestic cooking with firewood or cow dung, and vehicles burning diesel fuel.

unnamed (6)

Source URL:

Bid to delay third runway voted down

A motion, urging the government to delay construction of the third runway, was defeated by 13 pro-establishment legislators.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki moved the motion yesterday in the Three-Runway System Advisory Committee, citing as reasons labor shortages and insufficient raw materials.

But after a two-hour debate at the Legislative Council, only five pan- democrats, including Kwok, supported the motion.

He expressed fears about cost overruns, citing the funding woes of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen-Guangzhou Express Rail Link, while technical problems, such as a so-called “sky wall,” remain unresolved.

“We don’t have enough manpower and raw materials. We don’t have any agreement [with the mainland] to resolve the sky wall. This is why we are in a hurry to sign contracts. We all know that once the airport signs the contracts, there’s no way back,” Kwok said.

People Power’s Albert Chan Wai-yip urged the government to first submit all related reports because without them, lawmakers cannot make a well-informed decision.

The People’s Liberation Army Air Force requires aircraft leaving Hong Kong to reach an altitude of more than 15,700 feet before they enter mainland airspace. This altitude restriction is commonly known as the sky wall.

However, pro-Beijing lawmakers said the project should not be delayed any further.

Tourism legislator Yiu Si-wing and transport legislator Frankie Yick Chi- ming said the third runway will benefit the tourism, logistics and trading sectors.

Airport Authority chief executive officer Fred Lam Tin-fuk said sea sand will be bought from China and imported labor considered for the project, which has seen its budget increase to HK$141.5 billion from HK$84.5 billion.