What happens when there is so much pollution, or smog, in the air that it makes people sick? Governments will take certain actions to try and keep people safe. In Delhi, the recent smog levels have been so high—it has been thirty times higher than the limit defined by the World Health Organization—that school has been canceled. Helicopters, which have been used in the past to sprinkle water onto the city to combat rising smog levels, have been grounded because of poor visibility. Why have smog levels been particularly bad this winter? Experts say that the burning of crop stubble (or what’s left over after crops such as wheat is harvested) by farmers is adding to the pollution, a practice that has been criticized and is considered illegal.
India’s government has been working to establish rules and regulations to reduce pollution. Most recently, firecrackers were banned during the festival season of Diwali, and heavy trucks are no longer permitted to drive into the city during the day. Efforts are also being launched to increase the use of public transport as well as crack down on vehicles that do not pass pollution tests. But for now, authorities are monitoring smog levels and are closing schools on heavy smog days.