Authorities in New Delhi began revoking licences for thousands of older diesel vehicles on Tuesday and halted construction work on the underground rail network, as air pollution remained several times over the safety limit.
In a first, Delhi government today issued a health advisory asking people to avoid highly- polluted areas and cautioned those with asthma and lung ailments not to venture out for any activities, even as the city continued to battle its worst smog in 17 years. During the emergency, the tribunal said the states must temporarily shutdown thermal power plants and close all construction activities in the affected areas.
Some New Delhi drivers may find themselves unable to use their cars from Tuesday, as city officials look to lift the smog that has clouded the city for more than a week. However, officials confirm that the common practice of crop burning in neighboring states was a significant contributing factor to the risky air quality levels.
"Pollution has increased to an extent that (the) outdoors in Delhi are resembling a gas chamber", Kejriwal said, adding that the smog blanketing the capital is due to crop burning in the neighboring agricultural states of Punjab and Haryana. The apex court has been monitoring the air pollution issue and has passed a series of orders in the last one year to effectively control pollution. On Monday, the level of these particles was up at 700 (anything higher than 300 is considered "hazardous"). The Air Quality Index on November 7 as taken by the US Embassy stood at a whopping 999.
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During the hearing, the Bench also castigated the AAP government for shutting schools without conducting any scientific study and asked how it came to the conclusion that pollution indoor was better than outdoor for children.
The System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting & Research (SAFAR) showing levels of PM (particulate matter) 2.5 and PM 10 breaching the 500-mark at all locations in Delhi.
The smog that notoriously hovers over New Delhi has intensified to such risky levels in recent weeks that the Indian capital has had to close schools and ban construction and demolition work this week. "In addition, we also need to start taking steps to diffuse some of the causes which lead to such a situation", said Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI.