Thick fog threw life out of gear in Delhi on Monday morning. Road, rail and air traffic were all affected — flights were cancelled, trains delayed and those on the roads were not safe. Three people died on the roads of the Capital in the early hours, while two were killed in Greater Noida.
Countless passengers were stuck at the airport and railway stations due to delays.
Things did not look good for Tuesday morning either, with the Met office predicting bad weather for the next few days.
“This was the worst fog of the season in Delhi and adjoining areas,” said BP Yadav, spokesman for the India Meteorological Department (IMD). “Heavy snowfall in the hilly states coupled with rainfall in the neighboring states injected moisture in the air that lashed Delhi and caused the fog. This condition will prevail for a couple of days.”
The IMD’s Palam unit, which services the Delhi airport, reported zero visibility for 10 hours from 2.30 am.
In the city, objects beyond 50 metres were not visible in the early hours until about 8 am, the IMD’s Safdarjung unit said.
Traffic was stalled at several places on the NH-24. As trains arrived late and airlines in neighbouring states too suspended operations, the Met said the fog had engulfed all of north India. “It’s worse in Punjab, where there has been poor visibility for a few days now,” said Yadav. “In Delhi it would get worse if it rains.”
With 200 flights delayed since early morning, and passengers even spending hours inside aircraft waiting for take-off, it was the usual horror story at the airport.
The railway station was no different as thousands squatted on platforms the whole day, waiting for about 70 long-distance trains, which were late. “About 14 had to be rescheduled. Many trains are still running late and will arrive on Tuesday,” said a Northern Railway spokesman.
The Met department said that considering Delhi’s track record, the worst was yet to come in terms of fog. In 2005, there was fog every day of the last week of December. “In 2004, too, there was fog every day from December 10 to 31. So, it does get worse in Delhi and nearby regions,” Yadav said.