Pollution kills mercilessly at both ends of the spectrum of life.
They were only partially right, for the annual shadow of smog arrived in Delhi last year a week Diwali.
This year, Diwali came a month early, on October 19, and thanks to the Supreme Court ban relatively fewer firecrackers were let off in the capital.
Every day for the nearly two weeks, the air quality index has been between 400 and 478 – more than the permissible maximum.
By contrast, it is currently 16 at Ooty, Wellington and Coonoor in the Nilgiris, and not much higher in Shimla and Kasauli.
Gasification is the incomplete burning of biomass or coal in a limited supply of air or oxygen.
While full combustion yields only large amounts of carbon dioxide, gasification yields a substantial amount of hydrogen, carbon monoxide and methane.If you are in your teens or your 60s, if you are healthy, active, do manual work or play sports – and don’t smoke – the impact is minimal.It is children below five or six and older people – those who are frail, prone to asthma and coughing – who face the most risks.Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal met Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and asked him to enforce, and if necessary raise, the fines on stubble burning as an immediate measure.He has also been trying to meet Punjab chief minister Amrinder Singh, but to no avail.The dilemma they face was highlighted by the Aam Aadmi Party’s own party chief in Punjab, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, when he defied the state government’s order and ceremonially burnt crop stubble on October 15.In Delhi, there is an impression that the stubble that is left after the crop is harvested is the only problem.Punjab harvested a colossal 18 million tonnes of paddy in 2016, but with it came 34 million tonnes of straw and husk.Since rice straw is no longer fed to cattle in Punjab and Haryana, it too is being straw and stubble in a two-stage process that yields a fuel gas that can be used for cooking, heating and power generation, and any type of transport fuel.Based on this, there are proposals to deploy rotary root stubble digging machines to plough it back into the soil and enrich it.But stubble is the least of the problem; the greater is the rice straw and husk left behind after threshing and milling.