The central pollution control body declared public health emergency in Delhi-NCR as the Air Quality Index breached hazardous levels on Friday. The Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority has banned construction till November 5 and bursting of crackers through the winter season in the region. Delhi's air quality dropped to 'emergency' category for the first time since January. The AQI was registered at scary 491 in Anand Vihar area. Even at 8 am, the Air Quality Index (AQI) value was hovering at 459 at 8 am on Friday after pollution levels breached the ‘severe+’ zone late on Thursday night. ITO was no different with AQI at 477. AQI in Lodhi Road area was at 461 at 10 am.
In neighbouring Ghaziabad, there was no let-up from the smog. In Indirapuram, the AQI was at 494. AQI at Vasundhara shot at dangerous 497. The air quantity index takes into account five chief pollutants including PM10 and PM2.5. An AQI between 401-500 is considered 'severe' and anything beyond 500 is 'severe-plus emergency'. The air quality in Delhi-NCR deteriorated further Thursday night and is now at the severe plus level, EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said in a letter to the chief secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi. "We have to take this as a public health emergency as air pollution will have adverse health impact on all, particularly our children," he said in the letter.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal distributed anti-pollution masks to school students as the Air Quality Index breached the emergency levels on Friday. Kejriwal took to Twitter and shared the photos of the event. “Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states It is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through pvt & govt schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh masks today I urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed,” Kejriwal said on micro-blogging site.
Talking about the ill-effects of the smog on residents of Delhi, Indian Medical Association joint secretary Dr Anil Goyal told News Nation that people should avoid going out. Though the government has not announced it so far, Dr Goyal feels that the schools should declare holiday. There has been an increased risk of heart ailments due to smog, Dr Goyal said. There has been spurt in the number of people visiting OPDs since Diwali.
Meanwhile, Delhi Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said the decision to shut schools will be taken "when the need arises", even though the air quality in the national capital continued to remain in the second-worst severe category on Wednesday. "We will take a decision to shut schools based on regular situation. When the need arises, we will take this step," Sisodia, also the education minister, told reporters when asked about the government's plan to close schools in view of the increasing pollution level.