Authorities here have asked Delhi schools to restrict their outdoor activities as stubble burning in neighbouriung Punjab and Haryana blackened skylines of the Indian capital.
Officials and media reports today said the Delhi government overnight issued a series of directives for schools as the air pollution situation took a serious turn in the past two weeks.
“The pollution level had deteriorated in the national capital after October 25 . . . . due to stubble burning in Punjab,” newspapers quoted Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as saying.
Kejriwal accused the Punjab government of failure to control stubble burning of the harvested paddy crop exposing a vast region of the neighbourhood including Delhi to a severe health crisis.
Pollutants are dispersed particularly in the early morning when the wind speed picks up forcing many residents to stay indoors.
Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC) officials said schools were asked to follow a series of precautionary measures including restrictions on their outdoor activities.
The authorities also urged residents of Delhi to use public transport for the first 10 days of November, when the air quality was likely to deteriorate further since private vehicles contribute to 40 percent of the pollution in Delhi and its adjacent areas called National Capital region or NCR.
They also urged people to not use diesel vehicles during this period since that would add to the pollution burden.
Supreme Court-appointed pollution watchdog Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) also enforced a temporary ban on use of coal, biomass and diesel in industries and power plants in NCR .
“All industries using coal and biomass as fuel will stop functioning in Delhi and other NCR districts from November 4-10, 2018 . . . the use of diesel generator sets in Delhi has been banned as of October 15 and the Badarpur Power Plant has been closed as of October 15,” EPCA said.
Delhi recorded the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) at 401, the worst during the current season which is regarded as “severe”.
The Satellite images from NASA on Wednesday showed the highest amount of stubble (crop residue) burning ever recorded this season from Punjab and Haryana.