The sun had spread its warm fingers all over MysticLand. Verum and Scorch were playing a game of catch just outside their Mystical dorm room. Verum was poised to catch the ball that Scorch had thrown into the air. The ball was making its way towards Verum’s outstretched hands and then, it fell to the ground as her hands fell to her sides.

“Can you hear that?” said Verum as a humming sound drifted towards them from the dorm room, “It’s my crystal ball. I need to check what’s the news,” said Verum.

“Oh, no!” said Verum, “Delhi, the capital of India, certainly doesn’t have as pleasant a day as ours. The Air Quality Index (AQI) of Delhi was 407 at 9 am on 27th November. That means the air quality reached ‘severe’ levels. In November, the AQI has been between 301 to 400 which means it is ‘very poor’. And the air pollution levels have been quite high. An AQI between 0-50 is considered ‘good’; 51-100 is ‘satsifactory’; 101-200 is ‘moderate’; 201-300 is ‘poor’; 301-400 is ‘very poor’; and 401-500 is ‘severe’.”

“Websites provide the current AQI of various cities in India,” said Verum.

“That is indeed worrying,” said Scorch, “Air pollution can cause a lot of problems including irritating the eyes, nose, and throat as well as causing shortness of breath and other respiratory problems.”

“That’s even more worrying,” said Felix, “What could be the cause?”

“Stubble burning in the neighboring states like Punjab is said to be one of the causes. It is the practice of setting fire to the straw remaining in fields after the harvest of crops like wheat and maize,” said Verum, “But according to the Supreme  Court, that’s not the main cause. Urban activities like construction work, industrial emissions, and vehicular pollution contributed more to the pollution.”

“What measures is the government taking to deal with this situation?” said Orak.

“The government is following measures that were included in a 10-point plan unveiled last month. It has imposed a ban on construction. Schools and offices were shut but they are scheduled to reopen next week,” said Verum, “However, people have been instructed to travel via public transport. Diesel-powered non-essential trucks won’t be allowed into the city of 20 million people. Only natural gas and electricity-powered vehicles will be allowed to enter.”

“I hope the situation improves soon,” said Felix.