Two environmentalists have written an application to the newly-elected BCCI President Sourav Ganguly asking him to shift the first Twenty-20 International (T20I) of the three-match series between India and Bangladesh from Delhi. They stated that the toxic air in the capital could be hazardous for the players and thousands of spectators.

“In the light of extreme pollution in Delhi, we would like to request you to consider shifting the venue for the first T20 outside of Delhi,” environmentalists Jyoti Pande and Ravina Raj Kohli were quoted as writing to Ganguly by PTI.

The duo further wrote, “Making our cricketers play a physically demanding sport for 3-4 hours in Delhi’s toxic air will end up doing more damage to our cricket team’s health in the long run.”

Pande and Kohli represent clean air awareness and advocacy non-profit organisations Care For Air and My Right To Breathe respectively. “Thousands of innocent spectators at the venue will also be putting themselves at risk in order to watch the match in the prevailing situation,” they added.

The environmentalists explained that the respiration rate of the human body increases with outdoor aerobic activities and thus higher levels of toxins are deposited into our lungs and organs.

“This puts our sportspersons at even greater risk when they play outdoors. Any match played outdoors harms the health and very lives of the players and it is irresponsible to schedule such sporting activities during times of such toxic air quality,” they said.

Delhi and the other parts of the National Capital Region (NCR) have seen a huge increase in air pollution post-Diwali. The Air Quality Index (AQI) has been in the hazardous category for the last two days and the PM 2.5 level has spiked by nearly five times.

According to a report in ANI, people residing in Delhi-NCR have complained of breathlessness, eye irritation and suffocation, on Wednesday, due to the thick blanket of smog in the air.