Here’s What Delhiites Have to Say on ‘Hazardous’ Air Quality
Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
The skies hung heavy and acrid over the National Capital and its suburbs on Friday, 1 November, with the air quality dipping to the hazardous “severe plus” category, prompting a Supreme Court mandated committee to step in and declare a public health emergency.
As smog enveloped the city in grey, many people moved around with masks and others stayed resolutely indoors in what could well be a dystopian nightmare come true. The EPCA, meanwhile, banned all construction activity in the Delhi-NCR region till 5 November.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority panel also banned the bursting of crackers during the winter.
A Central Pollution Control Board official said the air quality index (AQI) entered the "severe plus" or "emergency" category early Friday morning, the first time since January this year.
Payal, a resident, expressed concern over the prevailing situation:
If the air quality persists in the "severe plus" category for more than 48 hours, emergency measures such as odd-even car rationing scheme, banning entry of trucks, construction activities and shutting down schools are taken under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), the official said.
About 46 percent of pollution in Delhi on Friday was caused due to stubble burning in neighbouring Punjab and Haryana, the highest this year, government agency SAFAR said.
Faced with the city turning into what he called a “gas chamber” and in accordance with the GRAP, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said his government had decided to shut all schools till 5 November. The odd-even scheme comes into force on 4 November for a fortnight.
CM Kejriwal, in his press conference held later in the evening, said, "The people who claim that it's not Parali (stubble burning) behind rise in pollution, I want to ask them that, what has changed from 30 September to 30 October in Delhi? Has there been a drastic rise in the vehicles or Industries?”
EPCA directed that all coal and other fuel-based industries, which have not shifted to natural gas or agro-residue, will remain shut in places such as Faridabad, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bahadurgarh and Bhiwadi till 5 November.
In Delhi, industries which have not yet shifted to piped natural gas will not operate during the period, it said. The panel also asked schools to curtail all outdoor activities and sports till 4 November.
Dr Arvind Kumar talks about smoke, the major factor in air pollution: "Sources of smoke from vehicle pollution, Industrial pollution, garbage burning, crop burning or trash burning in small areas have to be controlled. In themselves, they seem insignificant but collectively they will make a big difference in the ultimate outcome."
(With Inputs from PTI)
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