With Delhi’s air quality remaining in the “severe” category for the fourth consecutive day, the Commission for Air Quality Management implemented measures under the highest level of the Graded Response Action Plan to curb pollution.

Under stage four of the action plan, the entry of trucks in Delhi has been banned, except for those carrying essential commodities. Trucks that run on liquefied natural gas, compressed natural gas or electricity have been exempted from the restriction.

Further, light commercial vehicles registered outside Delhi will not be allowed to enter the city, with exceptions in place for vehicles that run on compressed natural gas, electricity or BS-VI diesel. A ban has also been imposed on construction and demolition activities related to linear projects such as roads, flyovers and pipelines.

Delhi Education Minister Atishi extended the closure of all schools up to Class 5 till November 10. For Class 6 to Class 12, schools are being given the option of shifting to online classes, she said.

At 2.02 pm on Sunday, Delhi’s air quality index stood at 482, according to real-time figures from the Ministry of Earth Sciences’ SAFAR, or System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research.

An air quality index ranging between 401 and 500 falls under the “severe” category. A reading of above 400 can affect healthy people and seriously impact those with existing illnesses.

New Delhi was again ranked at the top in a real-time list of the world’s most polluted cities compiled by Swiss group IQAir.

Levels of the PM2.5 fine particles was 332 micrograms per cubic meter. Particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (or about ten-thousandth of an inch) are particularly dangerous to human health. Such particles are small enough to travel deep into the respiratory system, potentially impairing lung function.

To be considered safe, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards require PM2.5 concentration in air to be less than 60 micrograms per cubic metre in any given 24-hour period.

On Saturday at 4 pm, the concentration of toxic PM2.5 particles at Anand Vihar was found to be 1,985, The Hindu reported, citing data from the Delhi Pollution Control Committee. This is over 33 times beyond the safety limit of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai asked Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav to convene an emergency meeting to address the crisis. He suggested that only CNG, electric and BS VI-compliant vehicles should be allowed to operate in the National Capital Region.

The air quality on Saturday sharply worsened across north India with a rise in farm fires that lead to a spike in air pollutants.

In Haryana, the air quality was in “severe” category in eight districts and “very poor” in seven others, the Hindustan Times reported.

The Chamber of Trade and Industry in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged that business has been hit despite the festive season because of pollution.

CTI chief Brijesh Goyal urged Modi to call an emergency meeting with the governments of Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh to tackle the problem. “The central government is requested to take strict and concrete steps against air pollution in collaboration with all the governments or else business will suffer,” he said.

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