Authorities also barred smoke-spewing cargo trucks from city streets, experimented at limiting the number of cars on the road and tried to snuff out stubble and garbage fires and ordered builders to cover construction sites to stop dust from enveloping the area.
But the battle is not over as authorities tackle a large amount of toxic foam floating in the Yamuna River, caused partly by high ammonia levels emanating from industrial pollutants. A weekend Hindu festival saw thousands of devotees offering prayers standing in the foam.
Water from the river is chemically treated before being supplied to Delhi’s nearly 20 million residents as drinking water.
“The water is absolutely black in color,” said Hari Lal, a New Delhi resident who was on the river bank Wednesday. “The water is all chemical.”
Kujan Sahani, a worker from eastern Bihar state, complained that his nose and eyes burned and he was feeling breathlessness.
Environmental activists say many rivers across India have become dirtier as the country’s economy develops, with city sewage, farming pesticides and industrial effluents freely flowing into waterways despite laws against polluting.