The Commission for Air Quality Management in the National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas on Monday suggested reducing the use of personal transport, increasing water sprinkling and several other measures to improve the deteriorating air quality in the region, PTI reported.

The commission also said that people mutsk work from home and avoid travelling, unless it is absolutely necessary. It emphasised on the need to adhere to rules for reducing pollution levels. “Future action will necessitate consultation with various stakeholders,” the commission said in a statement, according to the news agency.

It added: “However, at this stage, the commission stresses on the need to strictly enforce existing laws, rules, guidelines, directions and standard operating procedures to minimise air pollution on an emergency basis.”

The commission listed 10 measures in all, India Today reported. They also include preventing burning of biomass and municipal waste, the use of anti-smog guns at construction sites and other pollution hotspots, sprinkling water in dust-prone areas, asking industries to minimise their coal usage and encouraging citizens to flag pollution-related incidents on the Sameer mobile application.

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Earlier in the day, the National Green Tribunal imposed a blanket ban on the sale of firecrackers in Delhi-National Capital Region, as air quality in Delhi remained in the “severe” category for the fifth consecutive day. The ban, which will come into effect from midnight, will remain in place till November 30.

Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said that people found bursting crackers during the restricted period can be sentenced for up to six years in jail, NDTV reported.

The commission to monitor air quality came into existence last month, as President Ram Nath Kovind approved the Centre’s ordinance to establish it. The commission replaced the Environment Pollution and Prevention Control Authority as the top body for monitoring air quality.

Delhi’s air pollution typically worsens in October and November due to farmers burning off stubble in neighbouring states, unfavourable wind speed and traffic fumes in the city. Firecrackers ignited for Diwali exacerbates the problem.

This year’s haze comes amid the Capital’s fight against a new surge in coronavirus infections. Health experts fear that people with chronic medical conditions could become more vulnerable to the disease. Delhi on Sunday recorded its highest single-day increase in cases with 7,745 new infections in 24 hours. With this, the national Capital’s tally rose to 4,38,529, including 41,857 active cases and 6,989 deaths.

File photo: Rashtrapati Bhavan and other government buildings are obscured by pollution in Delhi. | Money Sharma/AFP

With fears growing about rising infections, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had last week banned firecrackers this month during Diwali.

Besides the Capital, the Karnataka and Chandigarh governments also took similar decisions on Friday, followed by, Odisha, Rajasthan, Sikkim and West Bengal administrations who had made the announcements earlier.

The state government of Haryana had also initially imposed a complete ban on the sale of firecrackers ahead of the festival. However on Sunday, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that people in the state would be allowed to burst firecrackers for two hours on Diwali. Use of firecrackers would be allowed only between 8 pm and 10 pm on Diwali and Gurpurab, and from 11.55 pm to 12.30 am on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, an order from the Haryana government stated.