Delhi’s air pollution continues to remain a major concern even as the government has swung into action in a bid to improve the AQI (Air Quality Index) which was in the “severe” category on Saturday morning. The AQI ranges from "good" to "severe" category, with the latter affecting "healthy people and seriously impacts those with existing disease”. Farm fires from Punjab are largely being blamed for the foul air in the national capital and nearby cities. The government has taken a raft of measures amid criticism.
Here are ten points on the Delhi air pollution:
1. Till November 8, all primary schools in Delhi are shut. Noida - which is also in the National Capital Region - recorded an AQI of 529 on Saturday morning while Gurugram was at 478. As the air remains unbreathable, locals have been complaining about itchiness in eyes and soar throat. Schools in Noida too are holding classes online.
2. Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai on Friday said that 50 per cent work-from-home would be mandatory for government offices. An advisory has been issued for private offices too.
3. The government has also announced a ₹20,000 fine on the use of private diesel vehicles not conforming to the new BS-VI emissions standards that insist on use of fuel with lower sulphur content.
4. The entry of heavy vehicles into the national capital - unless carrying essentials - is also restricted in the city.
5. Arvind Kejriwal - facing heavy criticism over air quality with his AAP ruling both Delhi and Punjab - has urged Centre to step in, saying this is not just the problem of one city.
6. "See pollution in North Indian towns. Its not just Punjab and Del. Entire North India suffering from severe pollution. Lets stop blame game. Lets find solutions as a country. It's our first yr in Punjab. Punjab govt tried its best in short time. By next yr, we shud see good results (sic)," Kejriwal said in a tweet on Friday after making similar remarks with Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann by his side at a briefing earlier.
7. For the second straight day on Friday, Punjab farm fires were attributed for over 30 per cent of air pollution in the city.
8. Mann too insisted that farmers should not be blamed for the stubble burning, saying his government is working towards resolving the matter.
9. However, a war of words broke out between Mann and Delhi LG Vinai Kumar Saxena.
10. The Supreme Court is set to hear next week a petition seeking urgent steps on Delhi air pollution. The National Human Rights Commission of India too has summoned top officials from the national capital, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab to take an account of measures taken.