India is now publishing daily air quality bulletins, to tell you how bad the air is in your city

Somewhere in there is Delhi. Image: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty.

Good news today from Delhi: the Indian government has decided, finally, to institute measures to tackle air pollution.

Although Beijing is the city best known for its smog – the Huffington Post even has a “China smog” tag with articles stretching back years, for all your latest smog updates – air pollution is actually worse on the Indian subcontinent. Figures released last year by the World Health Organisation showed that four of the most polluted cities on Earth were in Pakistan, and 13 more were in India. As The Weather Network cheerfully announced last month: “Move over Beijing, New Delhi has the world’s worst air pollution”. (Um, it’s not a competition, Weather Network.)

So, last month the Indian government introduced a national Air Quality Index, based on average air quality in each city over a 24-hour period. That’s had its share of teething problems – publishing out of date stats, so that the air in one part of a city is registering as clean while people are choking in the streets, that sort of thing – so today environment minister Prakash Javadekar has announced plans to make the information more useful, by publishing daily air quality bulletins in 11 cities, including Delhi.

The minister also called on citizens to do their bit to help bring down air pollution, too, both by not burning waste and keeping their cars in good condition. In Delhi, there are also proposals to ban all diesel powered vehicles older than ten years from the city. The Times of India also quotes Javadekar’s impressively blunt response to criticisms of the system:

"I don't want to dispute anybody's data whether the city's air is three-fold bad or four-fold bad. Bad is bad. We have to contain it". 

He’s got a point. Yesterday, four of the 11 cities monitored (Chennai, Delhi, Kanpur and Faridabad) registered particularly troubling levels of pollution.

Incidentally, if you’re looking to move to a city where particles in the air don’t cause irritation, headaches, nausea, lung cancer, stupid children and so on, the World Health Organisation has suggested that Vancouver might be your bag.


17 things the proposed “Tulip” skyscraper that London mayor Sadiq Khan just scrapped definitely resembled

Artist's impression. See if you can guess which one The Tulip is. Image: Foster + Partners.

Sadiq Khan has scrapped plans to build a massive glass thing in the City of London, on the grounds it would knacker London’s skyline. The “Tulip” would have been a narrow, 300m skyscraper, designed by Norman Foster’s Foster & Partners, with a viewing platform at the top. Following the mayor’s intervention, it now won’t be anything of the sort.

This may be no bad thing. For one thing, a lot of very important and clever people have been noisily unconvinced by the design. Take this statement from Duncan Wilson, the chief executive of Historic England, from earlier this year: “This building, a lift shaft with a bulge on top, would damage the very thing its developers claim they will deliver – tourism and views of London’s extraordinary heritage.”

More to the point, the design was just bloody silly. Here are some other things that, if it had been built, the Tulip would definitely have looked like.

1. A matchstick.

2. A drumstick.

3. A cotton ear bud.

4. A mystical staff, of the sort that might be wielded by Gandalf the Grey.

5. A giant spring onion.

6. A can of deodorant, from one of the brands whose cans are seemingly deliberately designed in such a way so as to remind male shoppers of the fact that they have a penis.

7. A device for unblocking a drain.

8. One of those lights that’s meant to resemble a candle.

9. A swab stick, of the sort sometimes used at sexual health clinics, in close proximity to somebody’s penis.

10.  A nearly finished lollipop.

11. Something a child would make from a pipe cleaner in art class, which you then have to pretend to be impressed by and keep on show for the next six months.

12. An arcology, of the sort seen in classic video game SimCity 2000.

13. Something you would order online and then pray will arrive in unmarked packaging.

14. The part of the male anatomy that the thing you are ordering online is meant to be a more impressive replica of.

15. A building that appears on the London skyline in the Star Trek franchise, in an attempt to communicate that we are looking at the FUTURE.

14a. Sorry, the one before last was a bit vague. What I actually meant was: a penis.

16. A long thin tube with a confusing bulbous bit on the end.

17. A stamen. Which, for avoidance of doubt, is a plant’s penis.

One thing it definitely does not resemble:

A sodding tulip.

Anyway, it’s bad, and it’s good the mayor has blocked it.

That’s it, that’s the take.

(Thanks to Anoosh Chakelian, Jasper Jackson, Patrick Maguire for helping me get to 17.)

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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