- The air quality level fell to severe on Tuesday
- Paddy stubble burning is the main cause of pollution in the capital
- Public health emergency was declared in Delhi
- Junior schools will remain shut on Wednesday
The Indian Medical Association issued a public health emergency in Delhi after air quality fell to severe on Tuesday. The entire capital was shrouded in a thick blanket of haze as paddy burning in neighboring areas of Punjab and Haryana wrecking havoc across the city. The situation reached the critical level with pollution levels crossing the permissible levels at almost all hours. The worst pollution levels this season ended up disrupting life with reduced visibility, disrupted flights and trains. Seeing the severity of the situation the Delhi government and central authorities announced a slew of emergency measures to minimise health hazards.
A slew of factors ended up contributing to the current pollution in Delhi sending the average daily air quality index (AQI) to 448, worse than the day after Diwali. Relief is not likely soon with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) warning that similar conditions will pursue for the next couple of days with paddy burning expected to continue. This lead to a toxic haze settling down over the city on Monday night, bringing down visibility to 200m by 5:30 am on Tuesday.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia described Delhi’s current condition similar to that of a gas chamber and ordered all primary schools to shut down for a day tomorrow along with restriction of all outdoor activities in schools. He also went on to add that the government was “prepared” to launch the odd-and-even transport scheme and even restrict trucks if there is an “emergency” (AQI above 500). Sisodia said, “The PM 10 level, as per data from CPCB, was at 436, which is less than 500 – the level at which it is deemed severe. But the entire city seems like a gas chamber and though it’s not technically severe, advisories are being issued to all schools to stop outdoor activities for all school students due to the prevailing air pollution.”