After Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan said the smog in Delhi is not an emergency situation, Newslaundry went to five locations in Delhi to check the air quality index and PM 2.5 levels. Unlike what the minister thinks, the situation is serious.
The real-time PM 2.5 reading at Lodi Garden, which is supposed to be the greenest area in Delhi, was above 500. According to Green Peace India Climate-Energy campaigner Sunil Dahiya, these are hazardous levels. However, most residents didn’t know of the invisible threat. Shweta Khurana, a local resident and daily visitor, said, “I thought the air quality level in the garden would be much better because of the greenery.” Many like her were under the impression that the air quality in the area was much better than the rest of the city. In the other parts of the city, the situation was equally bad.
There is a general understanding that closed spaces such as homes and offices are safe. However, Dahiya said, “If we keep our houses closed and use air purifier then maybe to a certain level…. It is just a misconception that our houses have better air quality levels.” When the PM 2.5 levels were checked outside and inside the Newslaundry newsroom, it turned out that there was no considerable difference between the two.
(The report was compiled by NL interns Mehak Sabharwal, Ayushi Chamoli, Syed Kazim and Ratnadeep Choudhary)