Environmental NGO Greenpeace said it was "sad" that India faced "international shame" for hosting games in polluted areas such as Delhi, after Sri Lankan cricket today team held up play in the third Test, complaining of poor air quality.
Noting that the bigger hindrance to clean up the air in India is lack of "political will", the green body said that the solution to this is not in shifting or cancelling matches but in cleaning up the air with "systematic, coordinated and comprehensive" actions.
In an unprecedented turn of events, the embattled Sri Lankan cricket team today held up play during the third Test against India, complaining of poor air quality that forced the hosts to declare their innings.
The first-ever incident of this kind in the sport's 140- year-old history saw an international team resort to anti- pollution masks while fielding and then refuse to continue, stopping play for 26 minutes over three interruptions.
"This is a sad situation that we are facing international shame for hosting games at such polluted places.
"The solution to this is not in shifting or cancelling matches but in cleaning up the air with systematic, coordinated and comprehensive actions using GRAP and more comprehensive Clean Air Action Plan across India with defined responsibilities and timelines, because it is not just limited to Delhi but entire Northern India is facing the health emergency," said Sunil Dahiya, Senior Campaigner, Greenpeace India.
He said that being sensitive to human health, "we should at least foresee approaching pollution episodes using emission inventory and meteorological data" as it is done in other geographies including China, and take corrective measures such as implementation of graded response action plan (GRAP) on pollution as precautionary steps rather than reactionary.
"The bigger hindrance to clean up the air in India is lack of political will," Dahiya said.
He said this was clearly depicted by the fact that the biggest overlooked polluting sector, that is, coal-based power generation was given two years till December 7, 2017 by the environment ministry to control the toxic fumes coming out of them.
"But as of today not even a single power plant complies with the full notification and no action has been taken on plants which are already violating the emission limits," he said.
Sri Lankan players struggling and using masks clearly highlighted that the air in Delhi is heavily loaded with pollution and undertaking physical activities was making it difficult for players to breath.
Data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) suggests the same -- Major Dhyan Chand Stadium Air Quality monitoring station, the nearest station to Firoz Shah Kotla Stadium showed PM2.5 concentrations at 337 g/m3 in the afternoon, which are hazardous levels of pollution.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)