Delhi-NCR Chokes As Air Quality Remains Severe

The Air quality in Delhi-NCR has continued to dip as it remained “severe” for a third day on the trot. Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index (AQI) is currently in ‘Severe’ category at 431 while the AQI is presently at 529 in Noida (UP) in the ‘Severe’ category. It is 478 in Gurugram (Haryana) in the ‘Severe’ category and 534 near Dhirpur in the ‘Severe’ category.

According to the Central Pollution Control Board and SAFAR, a forecasting agency under the Ministry of Earth and Sciences, stubble burning accounted for 30 per cent of the PM2.5 pollution in the capital on Friday, news agency PTI reported.

On Friday, the concentration of lung-damaging fine particles, known as PM2.5, was above 470 micrograms per cubic metre, around eight times above the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre, in many areas.

An AQI of above 400 is considered “severe” and can affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing illnesses.

Almost all the monitoring stations in the capital reported “severe” air quality, including 13 that logged an AQI of more than 450 on Friday.

“There would be a partly cloudy sky on Saturday with shallow fog in the morning. The maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to hover around 30 and 16 degrees Celsius respectively,” PTI quoted an India Meteorological Department (IMD) official saying.

Primary Schools Closed In Delhi

Delhi’s 24-hour average AQI had jumped to 450, just a notch short of the “severe plus” category on Thursday, prompting the final stage of anti-pollution curbs under the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), including a ban on non-BS VI diesel-run light motor vehicles, to be invoked.

The entry of trucks in Delhi other than those run on electric and CNG is banned too.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced that primary schools would be closed from Saturday in the national capital.

At a press conference, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai announced that 50 per cent of the city government’s staff would work from home and said an advisory would be issued to private offices to follow suit. He also informed that the schools would be asked to curtail outdoor activities for senior students.

Ban On Non-BS VI Diesel-Run Light Motor Vehicles

The Delhi government has decided to enforce the anti-pollution curbs recommended by the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), including a ban on non-BS VI diesel-run light motor vehicles.

Violation of the Delhi government’s ban on plying of certain vehicles owing to the rise in pollution will attract a penalty of Rs 20,000, PTI reported a senior official as saying on Friday.

Diesel-operated medium and heavy goods vehicles registered in Delhi will not be allowed to ply in Delhi except those carrying essential commodities or providing essential services.

“Violating these curbs can attract a fine of Rs 20,000 under the Motor Vehicles Act,” said an official, as quoted by PTI.

Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said, “Delhi is committed to taking all necessary steps to minimise the impact of growing air pollution in the city.”

“It was important that supply of all essential commodities or services is not affected at any moment hence the vehicles being used for the same have been kept out of the ban. I urge all the citizens to support us in this and avoid any travel which is not necessary and use public transport as much as possible,” he added, as per PTI.

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