Although the number of people visiting hospitals for air pollution-related ailment in Delhi-NCR has doubled from 22 per cent to 44 per cent within a week, the residents currently are split on enforcing three days of complete lockdown to reduce air pollution, a latest survey released on Monday said.

The survey, conducted by a digital community-based platform LocalCircles, found that the impact of air pollution on people has worsened in the second week with 86 per cent of families in Delhi-NCR now having someone experiencing one or more ailments due to toxic air.

About 56 per cent of families have one or more members were facing multiple conditions like sore throat, cough, congestion, and burning eyes due to polluted air, it said.

The survey received more than 25,000 responses from residents of Delhi, Gurgaon, Noida, Ghaziabad and Faridabad.

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In these five cities, the Air Quality Index (AQI) has ranged between 300-1,000. These cities are fighting toxic air as farmers of neighbouring Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh burn stubble to get the field ready for the next crop. The crackers and the regular sources of emissions like power plants and vehicles on roads have only made the situation worse.

According to the survey, “…The percentage of families who have visited a doctor or a hospital in the last 2 weeks has doubled and risen from 22 per cent to 44 per cent of families seeking help”.

At the end of the first week, about 22 per cent of families had reported someone in the family visiting a doctor or a hospital due to a pollution-related ailment.

“As suggested by doctors, this year is different as many in Delhi-NCR were impacted by the lethal Delta variant of COVID and hence they are more vulnerable to air pollution,” the survey said.

As far as implementing a lockdown in Delhi-NCR for three days goes, the survey found that people were “divided in their opinion” as many had expressed that the primary contributor of high AQI was the stubble burning and implementing a lockdown in Delhi will not help with the same.

Those in favour of the lockdown believe that while stubble burning pollution is something that much can’t be done in the very short term, limiting vehicles and other activities like construction etc. Will likely help in reducing pollution, it said.

Ahead of the hearing on air pollution in Delhi-NCR, the AAP government has told the Supreme Court that it was ready to take steps like complete lockdown to control air pollution.

The Delhi government has told the top court that such a step, however, would be meaningful if it is implemented across the NCR areas in neighbouring states.

The affidavit was submitted in response to a plea filed by environmental activist Aditya Dubey and law student Aman Banka, who sought directions to provide stubble-removing machines to small and marginal farmers for free.

Terming the rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR an “emergency” situation, the apex court on Saturday suggested clamping a lockdown in the national capital as it asked the Centre and the Delhi government to take immediate measures to improve the air quality. 

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