All schools in Noida and Greater Noida have been closed until Tuesday due to an increase in toxic air pollution, ANI reported on Sunday. Poor visibility due to the haze in the National Capital Region led to 37 flights at Delhi airport being diverted to other airports between 9 am and 1 pm.
Pollution levels spiked further on Sunday morning, with 10 air monitoring stations in the Capital recording “severe-plus emergency” category. The overall air quality index in Delhi was 708 at 5.45 pm, which is even beyond the severe levels, according to the government-run monitoring agency System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting and Research, or SAFAR.
SAFAR measures Delhi’s air quality based on index values recorded at up to nine stations spread across the city and one each in Noida and Gurugram. An AQI between 0-50 is considered “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor” and 401-500 “severe”. Anything above 400 poses a risk for people with respiratory illnesses and can also affect even those with healthy lungs.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted on Sunday to say that pollution had reached “unbearable levels” and Delhiites were suffering “for no fault of theirs”. He asked the Centre to take immediate steps and added that he would support the central government in all their initiatives.
In a video message, Kejriwal said pollution should not be “politicised”, and urged neighbouring states and the Centre to “sit together” and deliberate on how to prevent stubble burning. He said his government was not indulging in a “blame game” but looking for solutions.
The Delhi government on Friday had announced a public health emergency, with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal writing to the Union environment minister about his concerns over the pollution. Kejriwal has blamed much of the smog on fumes from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana. Schools in Delhi have also been closed till Tuesday, and construction work has been stopped until next week.
The Delhi government will enforce the odd-even road rationing scheme from Monday until November 15.