As air pollution rose to staggering levels in Delhi, a thick cover of haze, dust and winds have enveloped the city for the fourth consecutive day today. Visibility in the national capital has also remained poor with the capital city's citizens being given warnings of severe health risks of the outside environment and have been asked to stay indoors. Health professionals have warned citizens to stay away from the huge quantities of dust and grit that the winds, recorded at a rate of 35 km per hour today, have been carrying across the city.
Because of the dust carried by the winds, heat is unable to escape, sending temperatures in the national capital soaring. The weather department has recorded maximum temperature for today to be 40 degrees.
The PM10 level, which is the presence of particles with diameter less than 10mm, was recorded at 801 in Delhi and at 754 in Delhi-NCR today .
For PM2.5, microscopic particles that lodge deep into the lungs and cause the most harm, levels were recorded at 320, a "very unhealthy" score.
An Air Quality Index or AQI between 0-50 is considered "Good", 51-100 "Satisfactory", 101-200 "Moderate", 201-300 "Poor", 301-400 "Very Poor", and 401-500 "Severe".
In Chandigarh, flight operations were disrupted at the airport, where over 30 flights were cancelled on Thursday because of a drop in visibility levels.
The drastic dip in the air quality has prompted many to raise questions over the efficacy of the steps that the government is taking to combat pollution.
Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB has asked for all construction activity to be stopped temporarily till Sunday in the national capital region or NCR as Delhi and its neighbouring townships of Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad and Faridabad.
Fire brigades have also been asked to sprinkle water across Delhi to bring down the dust and particulate matter suspended in the air.
Environment minister Dr Harsh Vardhan, quoted by news agency ANI said that a dust storm from Rajasthan was responsible for the deterioration of air quality and high levels of PM10.
Citing the weather department, Dr Harsh Vardhan said pollution levels were likely to go down in one or two days.
However, at the political level, Delhi's AAP government faces an impasse, as Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal continues to protest at Raj Bhawan to demand full statehood to Delhi.
Mr Kejriwal has accused civil service officers deputed to Delhi of being on "strike". He said because of the "strike", a meeting on pollution control has not been held for the past three months.
Mr Kejriwal wrote to PM Modi on Thursday and requested his intervention on the matter.