Connect with us

World

Toxic smog, trash mountains & open sewers… inside ‘world’s dirtiest city’

Published

on

THE “world’s dirtiest city” is ten times more polluted than London and full of 200ft “trash mountains” stretching several miles wide.

Thick with toxic smog and a rancid stench from open sewers, air quality in Delhi, the capital of India, has hit severe levels.

13

Workers attempt to remove waste from one of Delhi’s biggest landfills that stands 200ft tallCredit: Getty
Open sewage canals covered in garbage can be found all over the city

13

Open sewage canals covered in garbage can be found all over the cityCredit: AFP
Many people make a living by picking materials from the rubbish dumps and selling them

13

Many people make a living by picking materials from the rubbish dumps and selling themCredit: Getty
Air pollution is so bad in Delhi that thick plumes of fog often take over the city

13

Air pollution is so bad in Delhi that thick plumes of fog often take over the cityCredit: Getty

Conditions have become so bad, in fact, that residents who frequently breathe the world’s worst-quality air are at risk of clogged lungs and a host of diseases.

The biggest contributor to Delhi’s pollution are the three rubbish dumps located in the neighbourhoods of Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla.

From vegetable peelings to glass bottles, plastic packaging, batteries, broken toys and discarded clothes, more than 10,000 tonnes of waste ends up there every day.

The mountains are so high that they can be viewed from right across the city, swarming with flies, vermin and emitting an eye-watering stench.

Recent satellite data indicated that Delhi’s landfills have become a global hotspot for emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas that traps 82 times more heat than carbon dioxide over 20 years.

According to the data from Kayrros, an environmental intelligence agency, Ghazipur, Bhalswa and Okhla have been home to at least 124 methane “super emitter” leaks since 2020, the Guardian report.

Residents in India largely use fresh produce to cook but more than 50 per cent of rubbish dumped at waste sites on a daily basis is made up of “wet waste”, such as vegetable peelings and food scraps.

With no strictly implemented system of rubbish segregation in Delhi, the wet waste is mostly unsegregated and left to rot, generating huge amounts of methane as it decomposes.

During the summer months, especially, things can get really bad.

Delhi’s scorching heat causes the highly flammable gas to catch fire, turning the trash mountains into toxic, burning infernos that send thick plumes of smoke into the already highly polluted air.

Harrowing footage shows donkeys desperately scavenging for food amid plastic pollution crisis

While it is illegal to enter the dumpsites, thousands of Delhi’s residents, including children, make a living by climbing on the mountains.

By picking materials – such as plastic, glass, wires and metals – they can earn themselves enough rupees to buy dinner for the night.

But the dangerous practice involves wading through heaps of broken glass and used needles.

Those who work on the site daily are also at greater risk of serious health issues, with many dying from problems with their kidneys and lungs.

One local man told the Guardian: “It happens all the time here, people die young from health problems.

“We know we are being poisoned by this rubbish dump but the government does nothing and the trash keeps on coming.”

Even in winter, however, the air gets particularly toxic.

The trash mountains are so high that they can be viewed from across the city

13

The trash mountains are so high that they can be viewed from across the cityCredit: Getty
The garbage landfills often catch fire during the scorching summer months, releasing dangerous levels of methane into the air

13

The garbage landfills often catch fire during the scorching summer months, releasing dangerous levels of methane into the airCredit: Getty
The fires can take weeks to put out

13

The fires can take weeks to put outCredit: Getty
A ragpicker working amongst the backdrop of a huge fire at the Bhalswa landfill site

13

A ragpicker working amongst the backdrop of a huge fire at the Bhalswa landfill siteCredit: Getty

Industrial and vehicular emissions, low wind speeds and bursting of firecrackers during festivals are just some of the contributors to the dangerous pollution levels in Delhi.

Other various factors, including the burning of crop remains by farmers in nearby states, rapid industrialisation and weak enforcement of environmental laws have also played a role in increasing pollution in India.

Last year, the government was forced to shut schools and colleges for several days in a row due to the toxic air.

Pollution has also led to thick toxic smogs cloaking Delhi, making it look like a post-apocalyptic city as residents wade through the ghostly plumes.

Things have become so bad, however, that the city’s residents – about 33 million of them – could have their lives shortened by 11.9 years due to the poor air they breathe.

According to the central pollution control board, pollution levels in Delhi have been at their worst since 2020.

Methods deployed by the government to tackle pollution have included the sprinkling of water on roads to reduce dust and the building of two 80ft high “smog towers”.

Costing more than $2million (£1.5million) each, the towers are supposed to clean the air but have been deemed to be largely ineffective by scientists.

Top 10 polluted cities

DELHI might be the world’s dirtiest city but there are plenty more doing their best to take its crown.

Based off data from IQAir, a Swiss-based air-quality monitoring group, we’ve compiled a list of the world’s ten most polluted cities.

1. Delhi, India

2. Medan, Indonesia

3. Jakarta, Indonesia

4. Lahore, Pakistan

5. Doha, Qatar

6. Manama, Bahrain

7. Mumbai, India

8. Hangzhou, China

9. Dhaka, Bangladesh

10. Santiago, Chile

A lawn of garbage trampled by cows just outside a local Delhi train station

13

A lawn of garbage trampled by cows just outside a local Delhi train stationCredit: Getty
Delhi's sewage canals have become polluted and covered in garbage

13

Delhi’s sewage canals have become polluted and covered in garbageCredit: AFP
Even the smaller canals which run through the city are jam-packed with waste

13

Even the smaller canals which run through the city are jam-packed with wasteCredit: Getty
Flies, vermin, crows and even cats scavenge amongst the rubbish piles searching for food

13

Flies, vermin, crows and even cats scavenge amongst the rubbish piles searching for foodCredit: Getty
Dogs are also seen sitting on heaps of rubbish across Delhi

13

Dogs are also seen sitting on heaps of rubbish across DelhiCredit: Getty
Continue Reading