KC NEWS DESK
New Delhi: The national capital continues to be covered by a toxic haze, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the ‘severe’ category, recorded at 411 as of 2 pm on Monday. According to the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Delhi witnesses its peak pollution levels from November 1 to November 15, a period when incidents of stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana rise significantly.
The 24-hour average AQI, measured at 4 pm each day amid the Delhi pollution level rise, deteriorated from 415 on Saturday to 454 on Sunday, prompting the implementation of emergency measures mandated by the central government under Stage IV of its air pollution control plan known as the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
The air pollution crisis is not limited to Delhi alone, as several cities in neighbouring states like Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh have also reported dangerously poor air quality.
GRAP divides its actions into four stages: Stage I – ‘Poor’ (AQI 201-300); Stage II – ‘Very Poor’ (AQI 301-400); Stage III – ‘Severe’ (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – ‘Severe Plus’ (AQI >450).
Here are the latest steps taken:
• The Odd-Even system will come into effect from November 13 and continue for a week until November 20, Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai announced on Monday. Under this system, vehicles with license plate numbers ending in odd and even digits will be permitted to operate on alternate days.
• The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has urged Delhi and NCR states to impose a ban on construction activities related to linear public projects. They have also recommended that 50% of government and private office employees be allowed to work remotely.
• The Stage IV of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) has been implemented in Delhi, during which only CNG, electric, and BS VI-compliant vehicles from other states are permitted to enter Delhi. Exemptions are granted only to those involved in essential services. Additionally, the latest directive from CAQM imposes a ban on all medium and heavy goods vehicles that are not engaged in essential services in the capital.
• The Transport Department of the Delhi government has issued an order prohibiting the entry of trucks, except those transporting essential goods, into the national capital in line with the Stage IV of the revised GRAP and is in accordance with Section 115 of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. It specifies that no entry is allowed for truck traffic into Delhi, with the exception of trucks carrying essential commodities or providing essential services, as well as LNG/CNG/Electric trucks.
• Due to the elevated levels of pollution, Delhi’s Minister Atishi on Sunday, announced the closure of primary schools in the capital city until November 10.