New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has called a high-level meeting today at 12:00 pm to discuss the city’s worsening air pollution crisis. The meeting will be attended by Delhi’s Environment Minister Gopal Rai and officials of all concerned departments.
The meeting comes at a time when the national capital is battling apocalyptical air pollution. Delhi’s air remained severely polluted for the fifth consecutive day on Monday morning with the Air Quality Index (AQI) still in the ‘severe’ category. The overall AQI in the national capital was recorded at 488.
Some of the worst-affected areas in the national capital include RK Puram (466), ITO (402), Patparganj (471), and New Moti Bagh (488).
In view of the increasing air pollution levels in the national capital, the Delhi government has extended the closure of all schools up to class 5 till November 10. Schools up to classes 6-12 are not required to close, but they have the option to run online classes if they wish.
A suffocating blanket of toxic smog continued to cloak Delhi today, prompting doctors to raise concerns about the growing number of respiratory and eye ailments among children and the elderly.
Microscopic PM2.5 particles, which can lodge deep in the lungs and cause health problems, soared to seven to eight times the government’s safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre in multiple locations across Delhi-NCR in the last few days. This was 80 to 100 times higher than the WHO’s safe limit of 5 micrograms per cubic metre.
The Centre has put the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) into effect at its highest level in Delhi and surrounding cities, where the air quality has remained in the “severe plus” category.
The Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) is a set of anti-air pollution measures that the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has established. The GRAP has four stages, with Stage IV being the most severe. Stage IV is activated when the Air Quality Index (AQI) remains above 450, or in the “severe plus” category.
To combat severe air pollution, the GRAP prohibits trucks from entering Delhi, except for those carrying essential goods, providing essential services, or powered by LNG, CNG, or electricity. Only electric, CNG, and BS-VI diesel light commercial vehicles (LCVs) registered outside of Delhi are allowed to enter the city, except for those carrying essential goods or providing essential services.
All construction and demolition work in Delhi has been suspended, including public projects such as roads, bridges, and power lines.
The Delhi and central governments may allow public, municipal, and private offices to operate with half of their staff working from home.
Delhi’s air quality is one of the worst among capital cities globally, with a University of Chicago report finding that air pollution reduces life expectancy by almost 12 years.