The air quality in Delhi continued to remain in the 'severe' category for a third consecutive day on Saturday morning as the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) of the city stood at 431.
A thick layer of smog blanketed the city, primarily due to unfavourable meteorological conditions and farm fires in Punjab. Official data on Friday revealed that stubble burning in Punjab contributed 34 per cent to Delhi's PM 2.5 pollution.
The concentration of lung-damaging fine particles, known as PM2.5, was above 460 micrograms per cubic metre, around eight times above the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre, in many areas.
Areas in the national capital region (NCR) area - Noida and Gurugram at 7 am this morning recorded an AQI of 529 and 478 respectively. Dhirpur in West Delhi recorded an AQI of 534.
Primary schools in Delhi will be closed from today, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced had announced on Friday as air pollution in the city worsened. Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that 50 per cent of Delhi government officers will work from home.
Outdoor activities for classes V to VII will also be restricted until air quality in the city improves.
"We are also mulling over implementing the odd-even scheme for the running of vehicles," Mr Kejriwal said as quoted by news agency PTI.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said on Friday that a bumper paddy harvest has resulted in increased stubble burning. However, he assured that steps are being taken to reduce the burning.
"We are taking steps like there are 1.20 lakh machines to bury stubble. Panchayats have also passed resolutions to stop stubble burning. We promise by November next year, stubble burning will reduce," Mr Mann said.
Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced a ban on non-BS VI diesel-run light motor vehicles in Delhi. Mr Rai also announced the launch of 'Paryavaran Bus Service' which will include 500 privately-run CNG buses.