A day after the Supreme Court-mandated anti-pollution authority declared public health emergency in Delhi-NCR, the air quality index registered yet another ‘severe’ Delhi day on Saturday. Major pollutants PM 2.5 at 500 and PM 10 at 500 remained in 'severe' category in Lodhi Road area, according to the Air Quality Index data. Neighbouring Ghaziabad was no better with AQI hovered over 450-mark in localities such as Indirapuram and Vasundhara. Surprisingly, just an hour from Delhi, Murthal in Haryana had a better AQI at 145. Though it is unhealthy by CPCB standards, but it is still way better than current status of AQI in Delhi. An AQI between 0-50 is considered 'good', 51-100 'satisfactory', 101-200 'moderate', 201-300 'poor', 301-400 'very poor' and 401-500 'severe'. Above 500 falls in the 'severe-plus emergency' category.
On Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted that the National Capital, engulfed in thick smog, had turned into a ‘gas chamber’. With cloud cover and almost zero air movement, the smog concentration is worsening by the day. The clouds have prevented the sunlight reaching the ground thereby stopping the vertical movement of air, the scientists say.
Another issue that has added to the current emergency is that ongoing stubble burning in neighbouring states of Delhi. SAFAR, the central pollution forecasting unit, has said that the share of air pollution by stubble burning has increased over the week. From 15 per cent, it has gone up to 46 per cent in just 72 hours, a report by The Hindustan Times said.
Meanwhile, all Delhi schools will remain closed till Tuesday (November 5) in Delhi due to rise in pollution levels. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejrilwal announced on Friday that schools will stay shut following rise in pollution levels due to stubble burning. The announcement came after the central pollution control body declared public health emergency in Delhi-NCR as the Air Quality Index breached hazardous levels on Friday. Earlier, the education department of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation had ordered closure of 581 schools under the civic body on Monday due to "prevailing poor air quality".
The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority has banned construction till November 5 and bursting of crackers through the winter season in the region. Delhi's air quality dropped to 'emergency' category for the first time since January. On Friday, the AQI was registered at scary 491 in Anand Vihar area. Even at 8 am, the Air Quality Index (AQI) value was hovering at 459 at 8 am on Friday after pollution levels breached the ‘severe+’ zone late on Thursday night. ITO was no different with AQI at 477. AQI in Lodhi Road area was at 461 at 10 am.