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REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis
Choked.
GREENER PASTURES

Many Delhi residents want to escape the smog. But where can they go?

By Manavi Kapur

What do you do when you’re living in a city that’s choking you? You plot an escape.

So no surprises here. Two-fifths of Delhiites want to move to another city, according to a survey by LocalCircles. “With the fourth season of hazardous pollution levels, and no concrete actions to address stubble burning in Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan, many are ready to exit Delhi National Capital Region than live on false promises or hope,” the community-based market research company said.

The LocalCircles survey, with nearly 9,000 responses from Delhi, Gurugram, and Noida, also found that 44% of the people have faced some sort of health issues caused by air pollution in the past week alone.

While an air quality index (AQI) of 300 is considered hazardous, places in Delhi maxed out at 999 over the weekend. Schools have been shut in the city and neighbouring Gurugram and a health emergency has been declared.

The capital is not alone, though. Nearly all major cities in India are currently reeling under this unrelenting, annual smog, exacerbated by stubble burning on farms, and firecrackers during festivals.

However, there are still places where the air quality is in the rare “green” zone, with an AQI of up to 50. India’s financial capital, Mumbai, benefits from its coastline, as do cities like Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala state. While Bengaluru’s overall air quality is currently in the unhealthy zone, there are pockets there in the green zone, too.