Taj Mahal gets air purifiers and schools close as smog intensifies

Posted on 15 November 2019

The Taj Mahal, in Agra, about 210km south of New Delhi, is India’s most visited tourist attraction. As smog levels have risen recently here and in New Dehli, authorities limited the number of vehicles allowed in New Dehli and parked two air-purifying vans near the iconic marble mausoleum.

The Central Pollution Control Board said that the air quality index has reached 472, out of a maximum possible rating of 500 and closed schools in the capital on 15 and 16 November. This level is nine times higher than the level recommended by the World Health Organization.

The air-purifying vans were stationed near the Taj Mahal on a trial basis for 10 days.  ‘We are trying to get [the private firm] to continue it for some more time,’ Bhuvan Prakash Yadav, a representative from the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board told CNN.

According to Yadav each van is able to purify 1.5 million cubic meters of air in eight hours. However, this can’t be verified.

Getaway‘s managing editor Michelle Hardie can attest to the incredibly high levels of pollution as she has just returned from India.

When she arrived at Delhi Airport, the air pollution was so thick she couldn’t see anything out of the airport windows. Apparently, the haze was due to a week of burning during the festival of Diwali which had just ended.

Last week she travelled to Agra to see the Taj Mahal – the air was clearer there but a pall of pollution still hung over the sky. Farmers burning stubble in the field at this time of year are reportedly also a contributing factor towards India’s pollution. Her lungs took a bit of a beating (also because she had been at very high-altitude on the border with Nepal), and she said, ‘I was very appreciative to see blue, clear skies when I arrived back home’.


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New Delhi has been ranked the most polluted city in the world, with 22 of 30 of the world’s most polluted cities in India, according to CNN. The increase in pollution recently also affected New Dehli’s international airport, with smog so bad that some planes were unable to land on 3 November.

To limit the number of cars in New Dehli, cars with number plates that end in even numbers were allowed on the road on certain days while cars with number plates that ended in odd numbers were allowed to travel on alternate days. This restriction ends today. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the odd-even vehicle restrictions could be extended and a decision would be taken on 18 November.

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