Minutes after the Supreme Court demanded an emergency plan on Delhi’s alarming air quality from downtown, noting the scale of the crisis, the capital city’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal called an urgent meeting to discuss the situation. .
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Health Minister Satyendar Jain, Environment Minister Gopal Rai and Chief Secretary will attend the meeting, a Delhi government spokesman said.
Earlier on Friday, the country’s central pollution control board ordered states and local agencies to be “fully prepared” to take emergency measures to address worsening smog conditions in New Delhi due to a drop in the temperature and wind speed.
A thick haze of toxic smog hung over the capital, which has been posting the worst air quality levels of the season, compounded by an increase in burning of crop waste on surrounding farmland.
It reduced visibility and the Air Quality Index (AQI) reached 470 on a scale of 500, according to the Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB. This level of pollution means that the air will affect healthy people and seriously affect people with existing diseases.
According to the Pollution Board’s “Gradual Response Action Plan”, air quality that remains “severe” for 48 hours should prompt states and local agencies to impose emergency measures including school closings, imposing “even pair” restrictions on private cars based on their license plates, and halting all construction.
In a circular late Friday, the board said the government and private offices should reduce the use of private transportation by 30 percent and advised city residents to limit outdoor exposure.
“Weather conditions will be highly unfavorable for the dispersal of pollutants until November 18, 2021 in view of low winds with calm conditions overnight,” the board said.
Earlier this week, authorities ordered the brick kilns closed, increased the frequency of mechanized cleaning, and cracked down on burning trash and dust.
The concentration of poisonous PM2.5 particles averaged 329 micrograms per cubic meter of air. The government prescribes a “safe” PM2.5 reading at 60 micrograms per cubic meter of air over a 24-hour period.
PM2.5 is small enough to travel deep into the lungs, enter the bloodstream, and can cause serious respiratory illnesses, including lung cancer.
Government efforts to reduce the burning of crop debris, a major source of winter air pollution, spending billions of rupees over the past four years, have done little to prevent a sharp deterioration in air quality.
Delhi, often ranked as the most polluted capital in the world, faces extremely bad air in winter due to burning of crop stubble, emissions from transportation, coal plants outside the city and other industrial emissions, burning of outdoor garbage and dust.