New Delhi: A public health emergency has been declared in Delhi and nearby areas by the pollution control body mandated by the Supreme Court, as the air quality dropped to ’emergency’ or ‘severe-plus’ category for the first time since January, on Friday.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) also ordered a complete construction ban till November 5 in Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, and Greater Noida, along with a ban on the bursting of firecrackers during the winter season.
“We have to take this as a public health emergency as air pollution will have an adverse health impact on all, particularly our children,” PTI quoted EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal as saying in his letter to the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi.
According to official data, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) on Friday was 582 at 12.30 am for Delhi-NCR. It had shot up to 504 at 3.30 am. 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.
If the air quality persists in the “severe-plus” category for more than 48 hours, emergency measures such as odd-even car rationing schemes, banning entry of trucks, construction activities and shutting down schools are taken under the Graded Response Action Plan, a Central Pollution Control Board official told PTI.
Blaming the stubble burning in the neighboring states of Haryana and Punjab, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal described the city as a “gas chamber” while distributing breathing masks to school children.
He requested them to write letters to Punjab and Haryana CMs urging them to control stubble burning in their respective states, which has shrouded the national capital in a toxic haze.
He also urged students to help in stopping garbage burning in the national capital.”We have to stop garbage burning in Delhi. If you see anyone doing so, request them to not do it. If they do not listen, there is a WhatsApp number to report it,” he said.
Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal earlier on Tuesday had appealed “with folded hands” to Punjab and Haryana to take concrete steps against stubble burning to prevent the national capital from turning into a “gas chamber”.