Delhi pollution: school closures and car restrictions amid severe crisis
Delhi pollution crisis: schools shut for 2 days, construction ban and car restrictions implemented
The National Capital Region (NCR), which includes Delhi, Noida, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, and Faridabad, is grappling with worsening air quality due to a surge in stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana. An air emergency has been declared in Delhi as the air quality index plummeted to 'severe' levels ahead of Diwali. In response, Delhi's Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, announced the closure of all government and primary schools for Friday and Saturday.
Measures taken to address the crisis
To combat the pollution crisis, the Delhi government has imposed a ban on non-essential construction activities and restricted the use of BS-3 petrol and BS-4 diesel cars in Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Ghaziabad, and Gautam Budh Nagar.
The air quality index (AQI) in Delhi-NCR has reached 'severe' to 'hazardous' levels, with an AQI between 401 and 500 considered hazardous. Scientists have warned of further deterioration in air quality, with the AQI reaching its worst of this season at 422. The concentration of PM2.5, a hazardous fine particulate matter, exceeded safe limits at multiple locations.
Impact of stubble burning and october precipitation
A significant contributor to the pollution crisis is stubble burning, accounting for 25% of PM2.5 pollution in Delhi. While stubble burning had decreased in Punjab and Haryana since September 15, a recent surge in incidents has exacerbated the problem.
Delhi's air quality in October 2023 is the worst since 2020, with a stark contrast in rainfall. Only 5.4mm of precipitation was recorded in October this year, compared to 129mm in October 2022 and 123mm in October 2021.
To mitigate the crisis, authorities have invoked Section 144 in Gurugram and implemented GRAP III restrictions in Noida and Greater Noida. Delhi Metro will increase services by running 20 extra trains to encourage the use of public transport over private vehicles.
Other banned activities under GRAP III include construction, demolition, loading and unloading of construction materials, and various road works. The government will also enhance mechanized sweeping and daily water-sprinkling on roads, along with dust suppressants to combat the pollution crisis.
The deteriorating air quality in the region, especially in the lead-up to Diwali, highlights the urgent need for comprehensive measures to address the issue of air pollution in the Delhi-NCR area.