The Haryana government on Sunday ordered the shutting down of all schools and barred all types of construction work in Gurugram, Faridabad, Sonipat and Jhajjar districts till November 17 in order to deal with the menace of air pollution, PTI reported.

The government has also asked offices to allow employees to work from their homes. The Haryana State Disaster Management Authority issued the order that came into force with immediate effect.

The 24-hour average air quality index in Haryana’s Gurugram city on Sunday was 287, which falls in the “poor category”, according to the Central Pollution Control Board.

A Haryana government spokesperson said that the work from home orders were meant for reducing plying of vehicles on roads by 30%. The spokesperson said there will be a complete ban on all types of construction and development activities as well as stubble burning. He added that roads will be sprinkled with water to control dust pollution.

The Haryana government’s action came a day after Delhi announced similar measures to reduce air pollution level.

The air quality in Delhi and surrounding areas like Gurugram, Noida and Ghaziabad dropped sharply in November after residents defied a ban on firecrackers.

Delhi’s pollution gets worse in October and November also because of farmers burning stubble in neighbouring states, unfavourable wind speed and emission of fumes by the local traffic in the city.

At 8.30 pm on Sunday, Delhi’s air quality index hit 381 – categorised as “very severe” by the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or Safar. A thick haze of toxic smog hung over the national Capital.

Delhi Traffic Police crack down on pollution

Meanwhile, the Delhi Traffic Police intensified its crackdown on pollution violators and those still plying old vehicles by deploying teams at 170 locations across the city, reported PTI.

This is a part of the Delhi government’s Winter Action Plan against rising air pollution.

“We are taking pollution issue very seriously,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Manish Kumar Agarwal. “Strict instructions have been passed on to our traffic personnel to ensure that pollution level remains low and that our department contributes its best to safeguard our environment and ensure that our citizens get clean air to breathe.”

The traffic police have also deployed teams at 13 pollution hotspots to check on the pollution level and relay the information back for necessary action.

The Delhi Traffic Police data showed that the force has issued 59,644 challans for pollution under control certificate violations and 1,201 challans against those plying 10 and 15 years old vehicles between January 1 and October 31 this year.

Use public transport at least once a month: Manish Sisodia

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia on Sunday said small steps such as turning off vehicle engine at traffic signals and using public transport for at least one day every month can make the city “healthy” and “pollution free”.

“It is our collective duty to reduce pollution by coming forward at an individual and community level. To make Delhi pollution free, every citizen has to take their share of responsibility to reduce pollution,” Sisodia was quoted as saying in a statement.

Sisodia said that while it was the responsibility of the government to make rules and regulations to check pollution, it is collective duty of citizens to “come forward and reduce pollution at an individual and community level”.

He added: “Industry and construction stakeholders should reduce their share of pollution. It should be considered that at a construction site, there is the least amount of dust flying. Further, smog guns should be installed on major construction sites and water should be continuously sprinkled.”