The Delhi government on Friday ordered schools in the national capital to remain closed as air pollution levels kept increasing to touch the ‘severe plus’ category.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said in a tweet that the government has decided to keep all schools in Delhi closed till November 5 as pollution levels continue to skyrocket.
KEJRIWAL ATTACKS PUNJAB, HARYANA GOVTS
Earlier in the morning, Kejriwal has hit out at Punjab and Haryana governments for severe pollution in Delhi. “Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states. It is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air,” he said.
Kejriwal further attacked the Manohar Lal Khattar govt in Haryana and Captain Amarinder Singh government in Punjab for “forcing farmers to burn stubble” and said it is the only reason why a toxic haze has shrouded Delhi.
The Delhi chief minister also asked schoolchildren to write a letter to Punjab and Haryana chief ministers, requesting them to stop their farmers from burning crop residue.
PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY IN DELHI
A public health emergency has also been declared in Delhi as air quality levels deteriorated to the ‘severe plus’ category on Friday. A Supreme Court-mandated panel on Friday declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region and banned construction activity till November 5.
As the pollution level in the region entered the “severe plus” category, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority also banned the bursting of crackers during the winter season.
The air quality in Delhi-NCR deteriorated further Thursday night and is now at the severe plus level, EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said in a letter to the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.
“We have to take this as a public health emergency as air pollution will have an adverse health impact on all, particularly our children,” he said in the letter.
Meanwhile, all construction activity has also been banned in the national capital till November 5.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality in Delhi deteriorated to 425 in the morning.
It is worth noting that all the pollution measuring stations in Delhi-NCR are recording AQI levels above 400, with the poorest air quality recorded at outer Delhi’s Bawana (716).
Places like Anand Vihar (478), Alipur (473), Aya Nagar (430), Dwarka (447), Major Dhyanchand Stadium (445) and Patparganj (443) witnessed air quality deteriorate further, as per Central Pollution Control Board’s latest air quality data.
Data shows that the contribution of stubble burning to the toxic haze and air pollution in Delhi-NCR was 35 per cent on Wednesday, but was expected to reduce by 10 per cent on Thursday. However, the level of haze shrouding the national capital and surrounding regions seems to have jumped today.
NOT JUST DELHI
Not just Delhi but 12 other cities across north India have recorded severe air quality. At least 12 cities on Thursday recorded an air quality index (AQI) of 400 and above, falling in the severe category. It is worth noting that there has been no improvement on Friday.
Surrounding National Capital Region (NCR), too, has been covered by polluted air as visibility continues to dip.
As per AQI data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), among the cities with severe category pollution include Greater Noida at AQI count of 473, Hapur (477), Kaithal (463), Meerut (459), Bulandshahr (453), Noida (452), Kanpur (432), Kurukshetra (418), and Delhi (410).
Vivek Chattopadhyaya, Programme Manager, Air Pollution Control Unit, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), said that the region adjoining Noida and Ghaziabad is witnessing very high AQI because of industrial pollution and waste burning.
However, weather experts are of the view that increased wind speed due to a fresh western disturbance would help in dispersing pollutants faster from Saturday.