Trucks carrying non-essential items from other states will not be allowed to enter the national Capital till Sunday, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said at a press conference on Wednesday.

The directive came amid the worsening air pollution situation in the Delhi-National Capital Region.

Rai also said that the ban on construction activities in the city which was earlier imposed till Wednesday, has now been extended till Sunday. Schools will also remain closed till Sunday, while government employees have been asked to work from their homes.

Rai said that the Delhi government will on Thursday begin the process of hiring over 1,000 private buses that use compressed natural gas, or CNG, as fuel.

The decisions came a day after the Centre held a meeting with officials of the Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh governments. The Commission for Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas had advised the state governments to follow a work-from-home policy, among other measures such as closing down schools and colleges.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, Rai also said that the state transport department has sent a list to the police which has details of vehicles that are over 10 years old and run on petrol and 15 years old that use diesel. The minister said that the police will ensure that these vehicles do not ply.

Rai added that 372 water sprinklers have been installed across the national Capital and that their numbers will be increased. In addition, a task force will be set up to monitor traffic and ensure that congestions are avoided, he said.

The environment minister said that the problem with the pollution was not due to stubble burning but because of governments. He alleged that the Centre repeatedly diverts the topic to farmers, adding the solution to the pollution crisis can be found only through a dialogue.

“I don’t understand why the [Union] environment minister is not calling a meeting,” he said. “The BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party] says no work is done [to address pollution in Delhi] the whole year. Forget the whole year, they [the Centre] are not ready to call a meeting during an emergency situation.”

Meanwhile, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has written to the District Disaster Management Authority to reconsider its decision of allowing people to travel in metros only by sitting. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, travelling in Delhi metro by standing is not allowed.

The real-time data available on System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or Safar, at 3 pm on Wednesday showed that Delhi’s overall Air Quality Index at 362.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered “good’’, 51 and 100 “satisfactory’’, 101 and 200 “moderate’’, 201 and 300 “poor’’, 301 and 400 “very poor’’, and 401 and 500 “severe’’.

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