With Delhi's air quality dipping to hazardous levels, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced the shutdown of schools and banning of construction activities till November 5 and reinstating the odd- even car rule from November 4.
The government was compelled to declare a public health emergency after being mandated by a Supreme Court Panel. The SC panel cited the Environmental Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) stating the deteriorating air quality.
The CM has called the capital an existing gas chamber and has blamed the uncontrolled stubble burning in the neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab for the worsening air quality.
The Delhi government had also pleaded the citizens to not use firecrackers during this festival season. They came up with a laser show at Connaught Place on the Diwali weekend.
What is Air Quality Index?
The Air Quality Index is a tool used for measuring air quality daily. The tool measures the levels of five major pollutants: ground level ozone, particulate matter or particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, and nitrous oxide.
The higher the AQI levels, the greater the level of air pollution and the threat to health is also greater.
Currently, the air quality in Delhi is in the hazardous region and is over 500.
The AQI levels in certain areas of Delhi and NCR are way over the hazardous levels of 500.
On the same day, the air quality levels in neighbouring capitals were as follows:
Actions Taken By The Delhi Government
The Delhi Government has banned construction and asked schools to remain shut till November 5th.
The odd-even rule which was in effect last year is going to be reinstated from November 4.
The CM has blamed the incessant stubble burning in the states of Punjab and Haryana for the deteriorating conditions in Delhi.
A few of the districts that are a part of the National Capital region are governed by other state governments. The CM believes that the other state governments could not control the stubble burning in the rural areas of the other districts which inadvertently affected the air quality in Delhi
While addressing the media, the CM also stated that the government has distributed 50 lakh masks. Arvind Kejriwal agreed that these masks are not enough for the total population of Delhi but also stated that the government started manufacturing and distributing the masks at a short notice.
What is Stubble Burning?
Stubble Burning is the activity carried out by farmers before sowing seeds for a new crop. The farmers burn the remains of their previous harvest which include straw stubble.
This causes air pollution and has been responsible for 27% of Delhi's pollution according to a report by the Central Government.
According to data from Punjab and Central Pollution Control Boards, the state has recorded a whopping increase of 7,842 fires - from 12,027 on October 27 to 19,869 on October 30.
While Haryana has recorded an increase of 476 cases - from 3,735 on October 27 to 4,211 on October 30.
These increases have affected the air quality in Delhi because of the changing temperatures and changing direction of the wind.