NEW DELHI (Reuters) – India's state NTPC is launching clean technology deals for two coal-fired power stations near New Delhi, authorities said, as criticism of the country's failure to end a smog increased toxic that affects the capital every winter.
But environmental activists said the measures were too small and too late.
The burning of illegal crops in the agricultural states surrounding New Delhi, the escape of vehicles in a city with limited public transport, industrial emissions and construction dust have caused the crisis, causing a health crisis public.
On Tuesday, two cricketers vomited on the field during an Indian-Sri Lanka Test game when a toxic haze covered the stadium and Sri Lanka, whose players wore masks, said they had complained to the International Council of Cricket.
There is also concern over an Indian Super League football game on Wednesday night, where players may have to wear masks, said one of the team's coaches.
A workforce led by a senior adviser to Prime Minister Narendra Modi is pushing a set of measures aimed at reducing pollution for next winter, said a government source involved in the efforts.
In addition to the $ 215 million plan to clean sulfur emissions from the Dadri and Jhajjar power plants, the task force has ordered the opening of a highway bordering the capital that will ensure that trucks do not have to travel through the city.
Vehicle emissions represent 30 percent of Delhi's pollutants with PM 2.5, or small particles that lodge in the depths of the lungs and cause respiratory and other diseases. More than 50,000 trucks enter the city every night.
The government is also considering a plan to grant subsidies to farmers to buy machines that clean crop residues so they do not have to burn their beards.
"The prime minister has ordered that air quality should improve for next winter so that we will not be in this situation of crisis again," the government source said. "Eventually, the plan is to improve at the level of cities in the developed world."
Sunil Dahiya, a senior activist with Greenpeace India, said coal-fired power plants, most of which are state-owned, received two years to control emissions this month, but nothing had happened.
"The biggest obstacle to clean up the air in India is the lack of political will," he said. The 135-km east highway that the government expects to free traffic was completed in April, then moved to August and is now planned for late next year.
On Wednesday, the reading of air quality in an area near the stadium where the football game will be played had increased to 204 at noon, well above the safe limit of 50, according to a measurement of the US embassy. . UU
Steve Coppell, a former Manchester United player who is training the Jamshedpur FC team in the match against Delhi Dynamos, said matches should not be held in Delhi at this time of year.
"It is not up to athletes to say that it is a decision that health officials will have to make, if you ask me, if I want to play in these conditions, I would say & # 39; I do not believe it & # 39;".
Additional reporting by Amlan Chakraborty and Neha Dasgupta in NEW DELHI and Sihar Aneez in COLOMBO; Nick Macfie edition