At this point, everyone is fully aware of the pollution that dominates Delhi and its neighbouring locations every winter. Over the past few years, the air quality and pollution levels in the national capital have been at dangerous levels. However, the Air Quality Index (AQI) has been so poor this year that it is fully visible from the space as well.
The American space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) shared a jaw-dropping photograph that showcases the alarming level of air pollution, while also identifying the reason behind it. The earlier-mentioned photograph was posted on NASA Earth's official Twitter handle and shows how heightened fire activity in the northwestern part of India with farmers continuing to burn off excess paddy straw after harvest.
"Smoke from crop fires in northern India blanketed Delhi and contributed to soaring levels of air pollution," they captioned the post on Twitter.
Farmers in places like Haryana and Punjab use fire as a cheaper and simpler way to get rid of stubble while also turning the land more fertile simultaneously. In the above-mentioned release, NASA further stated that despite the monsoon rains keeping fire activity at low levels over a few weeks longer than usual, on November 11, Suomi NPP satellite's Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) snapped a natural-colour image of a river of smoke streaming from fires in Haryana and Punjab towards the national capital.
22 Million People Affected
"Looking at the size of the plume on November 11 and the population density in this area, I would say that a conservative estimate is that at least 22 million people were affected by smoke on this one day,"
Universities Space Research Association (USRA) scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center Pawan Gupta was quoted as saying in the blog post.
In a thread on the microblogging website, The Weather Channel India also stated the whole phenomenon, citing the image from NASA.
"The images captured by @NASA underline the magnitude of the #StubbleBurning problem by depicting a massive "river of smoke" originating from fires in Punjab, Haryana and even north Pakistan, stretching towards Delhi," The Weather Channel India said on Twitter.