Delhi is expected to begin its odd-even road rationing scheme today.
- Air pollution levels in Delhi made a huge jump this morning
- The situation in the surrounding townships was no better
- 32 flights were diverted from the Delhi airport due to low visibility
The pollution in Delhi and its adjoining areas reaching a critical stage, the centre indicated that it will keep tabs on the matter. PK Mishra, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, reviewed the situation this evening with senior officials from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi. Pollution levels peaked to a three-year high that made breathing difficult and lowered visibility that affected road and air traffic. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called the situation "unbearable" and said the people of Delhi were suffering for "no fault of theirs". Pollution levels in Delhi's neighbouring areas were high too, forcing the authorities in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, to shut schools till Tuesday. The Supreme Court is expected to take up the matter tomorrow.
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According to the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the national capital's 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) stood at 494 at 4 pm on Sunday, the highest since November 6, 2016, when it was 497.
PK Mishra, the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister, reviewed the situation. Senior officials from Punjab, Haryana and Delhi, joined the meeting through video conference. The Cabinet Secretary will monitor the situation with these states on a daily basis, the government said.
The pollution levels prompted the administrations in Ghaziabad, Noida, Greater Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad to shut all government and private schools till November 5.
Thirty-seven flights were diverted from the Delhi airport due to low visibility caused by the pollution, a statement from the Delhi airport said. Of these, 12 were Air India flights.
A tweet from Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal read: "Pollution has reached unbearable levels across North India. Delhi government taken many steps. Delhiites have made many sacrifices. Delhi suffering for no fault of theirs. Punjab CM also expressed concern. Centre should take immediate steps to provide relief. We will support Centre in all initiatives".
On Monday, the Supreme Court is expected to take up a report from the Environment Pollution Control Authority or EPCA, on the pollution caused by stubble-burning. The pollution control body has asked that the NCR states be asked to stop burning of waste, toxic emissions from industries and dust from construction sites.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday said that he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi twice for compensation to farmers on the management of agricultural stubble, but there has been no response. "The central govt has to step in and find a solution to the crisis," he tweeted.
Delhi is starting the odd-even road rationing scheme from tomorrow, which will run till November 15. Under it, vehicles with odd and even-numbered registration plates will run on odd and even days of the week. Schools and colleges are shut till Tuesday.
Pollution in the National Capital Region was declared a public health emergency on Friday by the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority after pollution levels entered into the "emergency" category for the first time since January.
In Uttar Pradesh, the state authorities deployed an air purifier at the Taj Mahal. The air purifier van has the capacity to purify 15 lakh cubic metre air in eight hours within a 300 metre radius, reported news agency Press Trust of India, quoting officials.