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By FT Delhi correspondent Amy Kazmin — “I spent this Sunday holed up in a small bedroom with my six-year-old and two large air purifiers running full blast. Every so often, I checked my handheld air quality monitor. It was reassuring: our ambient air was “moderate”, with levels of fine particulates just a touch above what the World Health Organization deems a “safe limit” of exposure for 24 hours.

“Outside, the situation was grim. Six days after Delhi, and much of north India, was enshrouded in a toxic smog — a worsening phenomenon at the onset of every winter — air quality remained hazardous, with levels of dangerous tiny particulates, known as PM2.5, around 28-30 times the recommended safe level.

“Delhi’s air quality is likely to worsen in the days ahead; yet India’s leaders seem callously indifferent. The medical journal the Lancet recently estimated that 2.5m Indians die prematurely each year due to air pollution, compared with 1.8m in China. As New Delhi was engulfed last week, the Indian Medical Association called the smog a “public health emergency”.

“Yet Dr Harsh Vardhan, the environment minister, took issue with that stand, saying it was “too much” to claim air pollution kills. Prime minister Narendra Modi, who carefully cultivates his image as a strong leader, has made no public comment about a blight that prompted all schools in New Delhi, its peripheral towns and Punjab state to close for several days last week.

“But while Indian authorities downplay air pollution being likened to the Great London Smog of 1952, the rest of the world has taken notice. This weekend, United Airlines suspended daily flights between Newark and New Delhi, citing poor air quality and “the safety of our employees”… Financial Times. Read the full pieceon

Air pollution worsens as India’s political smog thickens