New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: Thick layer of smog shoruded Delh-NCR with Delhiites witnessing itchy throat and watery eyes. Since the past 6 days, the air quality in the national capital remained in the very poor category with the AQI hovering between 350 and 400.

Now, amid the efforst to curb the rising pollution levels, the US space agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), has released some satellite images on Tuesday showing red dots, which represent fires, including those due to stubble burning, in areas surrounding Delhi and the rest of North India. According to a NASA scientist, the health of 22 million people has been affected due to the smoke from crop fires.

"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," said Pawan Gupta, a Universities Space Research Association (USRA) scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center.

This came as the pollution level in the national capital remained dangerously high due to which the government decided to shut five power stations, extended school closures, and announced work from home for government employees till November 21 to bring down the pollution levels. According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR), the air quality index (AQI) in the national capital remained at 332 (overall) in the 'very poor' category.

A thick layer of toxic smog covers the skies of the national capital amplifying the risk of respiratory diseases such as Asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary fibrosis, pneumonia, and others. However, farm fires are not the only reason for the thick toxic smog in Delhi, motor vehicles fumes, industrial and construction activity, and road dust also contributes to producing harmful pollutants.

Similar assertions were also made by Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Thursday who cited a study from Indian Institute of Tropical Management (IITM), a central government-run body, which stated that 69 per cent share in Delhi's air pollution between October 24 and November 8 was of external sources. He said that a similar study by TERI in 2016 had shown that 64 per cent pollution is due to external sources and 36 per cent pollution is due internal source of Delhi.

Posted By: Mallika Mehzabeen