December 30, 2018, was the worst day for 20 lakh residents of Gurugram, as the Air Quality Index (AQI) rose up to 485, making the so-called millennium city the most polluted city of India since October. Next day, the AQI was 435 (severe category), making it the second-most polluted city of India after Ghaziabad (443). The AQI in other towns of the national capital region (NCR) was in close vicinity: 424 for Delhi, 406 for Faridabad and 422 for Noida. The PM 2.5 level on December 31 was 683 microgram/m3 measured at the Vikas Sadan in Gurugram. The only hope of the district administration for the AQI to subside is the expectation of western disturbances in the atmosphere to cause a wind velocity of 8 kmph to 10 kmph. Remedial steps like sprinkling of roads or mechanised sweeping are of only cosmetic nature.
The poor air quality in Gurugram and adjoining areas presents a major public health crisis. The adverse impact of exposure to polluted air on human health is deep and pervasive, affecting all sections of urban populace ; 400 million people are constantly living in 650 (district centres and megapolis) virtual gas chambers and inhaling polluted air with increasing toxicity without any demur. Continuous inhalation of polluted air with the AQI oscillating between 250 and 450 is eating into the vitals of human body like the process of slow poisoning. The overall impact on health is suffocation, aggravation of existing ailments, reduced life expectancy, lifelong dependency on medication, impairment of cognitive skills and synergetic movement of different organs and finally a big hole in the pocket.