Delhi pollution: Schools shut for week, construction works barred, govt employees to work from home
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday announced various emergency measures, including closure of schools for a week, ban on construction activities and work from home for government employees, to deal with the pollution crisis faced by the city.
The chief minister, after an emergency meeting, told reporters that his government will also present a proposal for lockdown before the Supreme Court.
Terming the rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR an "emergency" situation, the Supreme Court asked the Centre and the Delhi government on Saturday to take immediate measures to improve the air quality and suggested steps such as stopping vehicles and clamping a lockdown in the national capital.
Kejriwal said the schools will remain closed for one week from Monday in view of high air pollution levels. Work from home will be implemented concerning government offices and a separate advisory on it will be issued for private offices, he said.
Construction activities will be prohibited in Delhi from November 14 to 17. The chief minister said that pollution level is rising in Delhi due to stubble burning in neighbouring states and called upon all stakeholders to work together to combat it.
Earlier, Chief Justice NV Ramana, hearing a petition on air pollution in the national capital, asked the Centre, "You tell us how do you plan to take the emergency measures? Two-day lockdown? What is your plan on lowering the AQI (Air Quality Index) levels?" reported ndtv.com. Breathing the Delhi air is "like smoking 20 cigarattes a day," the state government admitted in the court, stressing, "We agree to the gravity of the situation."
"You see how bad the situation is....even in our houses, we are wearing masks," the Chief Justice added.
The overall air quality index of Delhi was recorded at 473 at 10 am. In Delhi, the air quality index of Lodhi Road, Delhi University, IIT Delhi, Pusa Road l, and Delhi airport was recorded at 489, 466, 474 and 480 and 504 respectively, according to SAFAR. An AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'. Authorities on Friday had advised people to limit outdoor activities and told government and private offices to cut vehicle use by at least 30 per cent as air quality in Delhi-NCR inched towards the emergency level amid a rise in emissions from farm fires and unfavourable meteorological conditions.
The Centre while assuring that strong measures are being taken to combat the situation, seemed to blame Punjab over stubble burning. "We are taking steps to stop stubble burning. But in (the) last five-six days the kind of pollution, we have seen is because of (the) stubble burning in Punjab. The state government needs to buckle up... stubble burning (is) happening in farms," it said.