It was once in a North American town in 1948 – “You put your hand out..but you don’t see the tip… you see your arm but the hand is not to be seen – it was so thick”
|Mills in Donoro|
It happened again in 1952 in London – The Sudden Killer in Night
Residents of London woke up to a thick fog which came from nowhere. London is infamously in news for its weather from time to time – whether a blizzard or fog which is somehow an indicator of good summer – but this time the situation was different. It was early winters in December in 1952 which created havoc of unmeasurable extent. This was the Great Smog of London which resulted in smoky clouds throughout the city. Residents describe the haze as warm, smelly, dirty, black, smoky fog engulfing everything like a film. The traffic was brought to the stand still and an auditorium performance had to be stopped as spectators could not see the stage. Official toll is 4000 but unclassified information puts the number at 12000.
|Hazed City of London|
London was surely unprepared for such massive incident. The solutions that were brought forward were short term in consideration and hole-plugging attempts in nature. Gas masks were distributed throughout the city to save residents from next fog. Doctors recommended people to leave the city to save themselves from the aftermath. However, none of these were going to solve the basic problem. Finally, Clean Air Act was introduced in the British Parliament which mandated restrictions for industries to add pollution to the air. Then, alternatives to power plants were sought and attempts were made to shift them out of the urban areas. The point being all these steps came in too late and the after loss of 10s of 1000s of lives.
Then recently in Beijing, China in 2015 – City under Smog Siege and Red Alert
|Masked Capital of China|
It was a usual Tuesday morning in the financial capital of the most populous country in the world. However, there is a different scene which wasn’t usual. Roads were empty, usual rush absent, schools closed and people indoors. As part of the emergency response plan, 2,100 factories in the city and on its outskirts were ordered either to stop or scale back production in an effort to cut emissions. The government had announced a Red Alert owing to severely high levels of pollution in the air. “Stay Indoors” was the message from the government and residents obliged. With an air quality index (AQI) of over 250, more than twenty times the level recommended by the World Health Organization, the city was shrouded in a thick sepia-toned air. The city remained helpless and sieged for next three days. Pollution in Beijing is a common, everyday issue that millions of people deal with in the bustling city. Beijing's industrial coal burning and high concentration of motor vehicles are significant factors in producing the poor air conditions. The thick smog was finally broken up by a front that delivered a fresh air mass to the city.
And Now in Delhi, India, November 2016 – Corrosive Mist, Cough, Breathlessness and Suffocation
The entire country was in jubilation and celebratory mood as post-Diwali festivities were still in the air. But happiness and joy had an unpleasant companion when the air is concerned – Particulate N-25 and N-100s. Residents woke up to a coughing and inflammatory lungs leading to short breaths. Kids were crying unaware of the hazard they were inhaling and elders had a tough time keeping their breath steady. Haziness on the outside only confirmed the suspicion as soon as one moved out of the house. What seemed like an early arrival of winters was nothing but poison in the atmosphere. Everyone was shocked as to what had bestowed on the capital city. It was not that higher level of pollution was not expected as the fireworks were supposed to create an aftermath. However, this was not something that the city was prepared for. It was definitely a cloud that created doubts in every mind as to what this was. Smoke emanating from farm fires raging across agricultural fields of neighboring Punjab and Haryana worsened the situation.
|The Night Shot|
|Unclear Buildings and Smoky Clouds|