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Environmental organisations urge PM to declare national health emergency

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New Delhi: Environmental advocacy organizations requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday to declare a national health emergency, as pollution levels in north India rose alarmingly over the last two days.

Pollution levels in the region increased over the last two-three days as falling temperatures, high humidity and low wind speed allowed rapid accumulation of pollutants from local sources.

"Almost all of north India, from West Bengal to Punjab, is reeling under severe air pollution that is verging on 'hazardous'. This is causing irreversible health harm to every single resident of these areas," said 'The Clean Air Collective', a network of organizations, citizens groups and institutions working towards the common objective of clean air.

High levels of air pollution are violation of the right to breathe clean air. The entire north India has turned into a gas chamber, they said.  

"We request the prime minister and all state governments to declare a national health emergency, enforce existing laws on trash and biomass burning strictly and focus on controlling emissions arising from all sources urgently," 'The Clean Air Collective' said.

Environmental advocacy organisations, including 'Care for Air', 'My Right To Breathe' and 'Chintan', among others, hoped that "we don't have a situation where world powers need to intervene in our ability to manage this national health emergency".

Mahesh Palawat of Skymet Weather, a private forecasting agency, said light winds had been blowing over the Indo-Gangetic plains for the past few days.

"Dust, vehicular and industrial emissions remain suspended near the ground in the absence of favourable wind speed," he said. Low temperatures and high humidity lead to the formation of mist, haze and shallow fog which blend with the pollutants.

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