The rise is pollution comes with an increase in stubble burning incidents in nearby states
Delhi has barred the entry of trucks and is staring at even stricter curbs with the state governments in the National Capital Region (NCR) yet to decide on shutting schools and offices as it fights severe air pollution.
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Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called a high-level meeting this noon to discuss the pollution crisis. Environment Minister Gopal Rai and officials of all concerned departments will be attending the meeting.
In Delhi, the overall air quality index (AQI) was recorded at 488 this morning, much above the safe level prescribed by the World Health Organisation. Some of the worst-affected areas in the city include RK Puram (466), ITO (402), Patparganj (471), and New Moti Bagh (488).
In the NCR, several cities in Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have reported hazardous air quality. Ghaziabad (413), Gurugram (369), Noida (403), Greater Noida (396) and Faridabad (426) were found breathing toxic air at 7 am.
The rise is pollution comes with an increase in stubble burning incidents in nearby states. Punjab yesterday reported the highest number of farm fires this season with a sudden surge in stubble burning following a relatively smoke-less October, data showed. There was a 740 percent increase in stubble burning with 1,068 farm fires being recorded on Sunday. On Saturday, only 127 stubble-burning incidents were reported.
The Centre has put the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), a set of anti-pollution measures, into effect at its highest level in Delhi and surrounding cities to fight the worsening air quality. Stage-IV, the most severe of all, has been activated to impose stricter curbs in the city.
A long queue of trucks was seen at Delhi's Apsara border this morning, unable to enter the city due to the latest restrictions. Under GRAP Stage-IV, trucks can't enter Delhi unless they are carrying essential goods, providing essential services, or are powered by LNG, CNG, or electricity.
Only electric, CNG, and BS-VI diesel light commercial vehicles (LCVs) registered outside of Delhi are allowed to enter the city. Those carrying essential goods or providing essential services are being exempted from these restrictions. Besides, construction activities are on hold in Delhi, including public projects.
The Delhi government has shut schools up to class 5 till November 10 in view of the rising pollution levels. Classes 6-12 are not required to shut but can switch to online classes if they wish, under the latest restrictions. Delhi and central governments may allow public, municipal, and private offices to operate with half of their staff working from home.
The suffocating blanket of toxic smog that cloaks Delhi has prompted doctors to raise health concerns including rising number of respiratory and eye ailments among children and the elderly.
Delhi is expected to witness another day of toxic smog with conditions favourable for the dispersion of pollutants are likely to develop Tuesday night onwards under the influence of an upcoming western disturbance, according to the India Meteorological Department.