The air pollution crisis in Delhi continued on Sunday, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) docking at 495 at 5 pm on Sunday. As visibility remained low, nearly 37 flights were diverted from Delhi airport.
The district magistrates of Ghaziabad and Hapur declared a holiday for schools on 4 and 5 November as the air quality in the surrounding NCR and areas of Uttar Pradesh too dipped, reported ANI.
The Air Quality Index remained severe at 5 pm, docking at 495 — just 5 point from going off the charts. The Lodhi Road area continued to be affected as the major pollutants PM 2.5 at 500 & PM 10 remained in 'severe' category, reported ANI while in Faridabad, the AQI crossed 783, reported Skymet.
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'. Above 500 falls in the 'severe plus' category.
Meanwhile the Delhi government issued an advisory detailing do's and dont's for citizens to protect themselves from the worsening air quality.
Health Advisory issued for public by Delhi Government for protection from air pollution pic.twitter.com/hKoyMwRCYt
— ANI (@ANI) November 3, 2019
At least 37 flights were diverted at the Delhi Airport after a thick blanket of smog engulfed several parts of the city on Sunday morning, however the situation improved later as winds picked up pace. The Delhi Airport issued a statement saying, "Due to low visibility at Delhi Airport, 37 flights were diverted between 9 am and 1 pm to places including Jaipur, Amritsar and Lucknow among others, today. As of now, the visibility has improved." A Twitter update at 3 pm stated: "The visibility at Delhi airport is improving. Passengers are requested to get in touch with the airline concerned for the updated flight information. Any inconvenience caused is deeply regretted." Low visibility is becoming a reason for flight delays. Multiple flights have been diverted since morning. Visibility in other parts of the city remained low, affecting tourism in the city. Speaking to ANI, Ankit, hailing from Maharashtra, said: "We had come to visit the Rashtrapati Bhawan. However, the high level of pollution has ruined the experience." "There is no visibility. Because of the polluted air, we are experiencing irritation in our eyes and breathing problems," he said. Ashish Kumar, another visitor, said that he and his friends had plans to celebrate the weekend, but the pollution has put a dampener on all their plans.
Recent images from @DelhiAirport Low visibility is becoming a reason for flight delays. Multiple flights have been diverted since morning. #DelhiPollution #DelhiBachao #DelhiAirEmergency pic.twitter.com/iHW2cnP67D — SkymetWeather (@SkymetWeather) November 3, 2019
CISF distributes masks to its personnel
Meanwhile, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), that guards vital installations including the airport and the Delhi Metro issued N95-grade masks to thousands of its personnel in view of the 'severe' category air quality in the national capital region, reported PTI. CISF chief Rajesh Ranjan directed all commanders of units deployed in the Delhi and national capital region to provide masks to security personnel and ensure their usage, said CISF spokesperson Hemendra Singh. "The personnel will wear these masks till air quality improves. The force will also render medical assistance to its personnel deployed at Delhi-NCR having breathing troubles," the spokesperson said. The CISF has over 25,000 personnel deputed in this region with the maximum, about 13,000, deployed to secure the Delhi Metro Rail Network (DMRC).
School to remain shut in Ghaziabad, Hapur
Apart from the capital, Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad and Noida were also reeling under the wave of severe air pollution. In both places, the AQI crossed the 600- mark, prompting the district administration to declare a holiday for school and colleges on 4, 5 November. The order issued by the District Magistrate (DM) Ghaziabad, Ajay Shankar Pandey said, "Due to increased air pollution in the NCR, all schools till class 12 shall remain closed on November 4 and 5." "The air quality in Ghaziabad remains in poor quality. According to the Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board data, the PM-10 and PM 2.5 levels are very high," the order stated.
Neighbouring Hapur too declared that all schools will remain shut on Monday and Tuesday. The District Basic Education Officer, Hapur, Devendra Gupta said in a statement, "Due to rising air pollution in the NCR area, the air quality of this region is also getting affected. Hence all schools up to 12th standard will remain closed for two days."
"The vehicles that are operated for school purposes and guardians in the morning and afternoon, adversely affect the environment. This can have an adverse effect on the health of children," he added.
Meanwhile, Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said the issue of pollution should not be "politicised" and called on all neighbouring states and the Centre to "sit together" and deliberate on how to prevent stubble burning. Kejriwal said his government was not indulging in "blame game" but looking for solutions to tackle the pollution caused by stubble burning.
The chief minister also urged Delhi residents to follow the odd-even road rationing scheme beginning Monday."I urge people to use to car-pooling when they are not able to drive their car during this scheme. I will also be following the scheme strictly," he said.
On Friday, the Supreme Court-mandated Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a public health emergency, following which the Delhi government decided to shut all schools. The EPCA also banned construction activities in Delhi-NCR till 5 November.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Nov 03, 2019 20:26:42 IST