Air quality in Delhi-NCR region remains ‘Severe’ category, Schools closed


NEW DELHI: The air quality in Delhi and NCR region remained in the ‘Severe” category on Thursday morning due to the spike in pollution levels.

Delhi and its suburbs have again been engulfed in a thick blanket of smog as fall in the temperature and wind speed pushed the city's air quality in the ‘severe’ zone.
Schools in Delhi and adjoining districts have been advised to remain shut for today and tomorrow following an order from the Supreme Court-mandated anti-pollution authority EPCA as the air quality hovered close to 'emergency' levels.
Early this month, the Delhi government shut all schools for four days after EPCA declared a public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region in the wake of rising pollution level. The schools reopened on November 5 after the air quality had improved.
Earlier, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had distributed anti-pollution masks to school students along with deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia.
According to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the overall air quality of the national capital docked at 472 at 7 am today. As per the report from the SAFAR, the condition may slightly improve by November 15.
An AQI between 0-50 is considered as “good”, 51-100 as “satisfactory”, 101-200 as “moderate”, 201-300 as “poor”, 301- 400 as “very poor”, and 401-500 as “severe”.
People residing in National capital are reeling under the impact of breathing polluted air due to vehicular pollution, crop residue burning and climate change. They are using mask and scarves to cover their nose from the cocktail of dust and smog.
Earlier, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had said that local sources of pollution, including stack emissions, dust, and burning of plastic and rubber waste, were the primary reason for deteriorating air quality in Delhi-NCR.
The medical practitioners across the city have advised people, who are suffering from breathing difficulties to avoid outside activities and recommended to use the mask. If anybody experienced unusual coughing, chest discomfort, wheezing or fatigue, then consult the doctor.
They also advised that to drink enough water to avoid dehydration and have fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain antioxidants to boost immunity.
From October 15, stringent measures to combat the menace of air pollution had come into force in the national capital and its nearby regions as part of the Graded Response Action Plan.
This plan includes increasing bus and metro services, hiking parking fees and stopping the use of diesel generator when the air quality turns poor.
Earlier, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced that ‘Odd-Even scheme’ will be implemented in the national capital after Diwali, from November 4 to 15.
‘Odd-Even scheme ‘ is a flagship scheme of the Aam Aadmi Party government, aimed at combatting pollution. It was first implemented in 2015.
Under the scheme, four-wheelers with registration numbers ending with odd digits ply on odd dates and those ending with even digits ply on even dates.
On November 13, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the Delhi government on a plea challenging the odd-even road rationing scheme in the national capital.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta also directed the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to place before it the data of pollution in Delhi from October till November 14 this year. The bench also directed them to submit pollution data from October 1 to December 31, 2018.
The petition has alleged that the Delhi government's November 1 notification on the scheme also violates fundamental rights. It added that the odd-even rule violates citizens' rights to practice any profession, carry out any occupation, trade or business and to move freely throughout the country.
Earlier, the top court had questioned the Delhi government as to what it was achieving from the odd-even scheme by stopping plying of cars that are less polluting compared to two and three-wheelers and taxis.
On November 13, the SC also directed the central government to explore Hydrogen based fuel technology to find a solution to compact air pollution in northern India.
On November 4, the Supreme Court had banned stubble burning in Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh in view of severe air pollution.
It also banned all construction and demolition activities along with burning of garbage and waste in Delhi-NCR in the region.
The apex also directed that all those carrying out construction and demolition activities would be fined one lakh rupees. A penalty of 5,000 rupees would be imposed if anyone was found burning garbage and waste in the region.
A bench comprising justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta said in case of any violation, the local administration and zonal officers would be held responsible.
It asked the Delhi government and the civic bodies to chalk out a plan to ensure removal of the waste dumped at open spaces and come up with a scheme to deal with the issue.

Image credit: Hindustan Times


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