As Delhi’s air quality deteriorated further on Friday morning with a thick layer of smog and haze shrouding the national capital, the country’s federal pollution control board has now ordered states and local bodies to be in ‘complete readiness’ for emergency measures.
A thick haze of toxic smog hung over the Indian capital, increased by a spike in the burning of crop waste in surrounding farmlands. It reduced visibility and the Air Quality Index (AQI) hit 470 on a scale of 500, according to the federal pollution control board.
This level of pollution means the air will affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing diseases.
According to the pollution board’s “Graded Response Action Plan”, air quality remaining “severe” for 48 hours must prompt states and local bodies to impose emergency measures that include shutting down schools, imposing ‘odd-even’ restrictions on private cars based on their number plates, and stopping all construction.
In a circular late on Friday, the board said the government and private offices should reduce the use of private transport by 30% and advised the city’s residents to limit outdoor exposure.
“Meteorological conditions will be highly unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants till November 18, 2021, given low winds with calm conditions during the night,” the board said.
Earlier this week, local authorities had ordered a shutdown of brick kilns, increased the frequency of mechanized cleaning, and a crackdown on garbage burning and dust.
India’s efforts to reduce crop-waste burning, a major source of air pollution during winter, by spending billions of rupees over the past four years have done little to avert a sharp deterioration in air quality.
Delhi often ranked the world’s most polluted capital, faces extremely bad air in winter due to the crop stubble burning, emissions from transport, coal-fired plants outside the city, and other industrial emissions, open garbage burning, and dust.