Construction banned, all schools shut in Delhi
Odd-even plan may return
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced the closure of all schools till Wednesday, and banned construction and demolition activities for the next five days to tackle the alarming air pollution in Delhi.
Announcing a slew of emergency measures, Kejriwal ordered the temporary closure of a power plant and considered bringing back the odd-even car rationing scheme. He also asked people to stay indoors and work from home.
The chief minister said the use of diesel generator sets will also be prohibited.
Moreover, he has asked the health department to issue ‘appropriate’ advisories from time to time. These steps are in line with emergency measures taken by some of the big cities like Beijing, he said.
The 24-hour air quality index (AQI) on Sunday, with a value of 497, broke Saturday’s record, which was the season’s highest till now. This means it was even higher than the post-Deepavali AQI of 445.
As thick black smog continued to envelop the national capital, with people complaining of breathlessness and burning sensation in the eyes, the AQI of at least four out of seven monitoring stations remained at 500, the maximum figure on the chart.
“Pollution is a serious problem in Delhi and it has increased in the last 10 days due to the burning of agricultural waste in neighbouring states. But I am not pointing fingers. Everyone should come together and find solutions, and not politicise the issue,” Kejriwal said at an emergency meeting at his residence.
Kejriwal said the coal-fired Badarpur Power Plant, considered one of the key sources of pollution, will be closed for 10 days.
The government will also launch an app to report incidents of dry leaves and garbage burning and has formed a team of the environment department for strict enforcement of its prohibition. He said a possibility of engineering artificial rain, which will clear some of the pollution, would be discussed with the Centre.
On Sunday, the average air quality worsened further, with levels of PM (particulate matter) 10 and PM 2.5 at 844 and 588 microgram per cubic metre (ug/m3), respectively, almost nine times more than the safe limit.
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