Delhi's air quality on Thursday inched closer to "severe" level with stubble burning and local pollution sources being the major causes. The three cities of the National Capital Region (NCR)- Gurugram, Faridabad and Noida- figured on the list of the most polluted cities.
Acting on the advice given by task force on Graded Response Action Plan, Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority (EPCA) moved to shut construction activities, till November 10.
"All construction activities involving excavation, civil construction (excluding internal finishing/work where no construction material is used) to remain closed in NCR districts from November 1 to 10", said the EPCA.
All stone crushers, hot mix plants generating dust pollution to remain closed in the districts during the period, it said.
EPCA asked all biomass and coal based industries in the NCR region to help contain the rising air pollution.
In view of the rising air pollution, EPCA has issued a directive asking around 500 rice mills across Rajasthan, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to stop operations from November 4 until the further orders.
Expressing displeasure with the move, Millers rued that the shutdown will affect quality of the product and basmati export.
Pollution is set to worsen until at least November 4, with high moisture trapping the pollutants and calm wind not allowing them to disperse, according to the System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).
“For the first time, EPCA members have been asked to visit at least one hot spot such as Punjabi Bagh, DTU, Mundka and landfill sites of Ghazipur and Bhalswa and submit reports on what is triggering pollution, and suggest solutions,” said Bhure Lal, chairman of EPCA, who himself has taken charge of Anand Vihar, one of the most polluted areas of Delhi.
The stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana has about 30 per cent impact on Delhi's air quality, say experts from Central Pollution Control Board (CPSB).
The Air Quality Index (AQI) on Thursday was 393 in Delhi, considered "very poor" or near "severe". Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh saw a slight improvement with an AQI of 377.
Haryana's Gurugram had an AQI of 427, while Faridabad and Noida had 407, making them the three most polluted cities in the country on Thursday.
“There is moderate moisture in the air. This is likely to maximise by November 4 (Sunday), resulting in enhanced air holding capacity and faster growth in pollution levels,” a SAFAR scientist said
On Thursday, business venture Blueair collaborated with East Delhi Municipal Corporation to distribute 5,000 N-95 mask among the municipal workers.
Delhi on Thursday saw a rise in particle pollutants with average dispersion of PM2.5 and PM10, or particles with diameter less than 2.5mm and 10mm, being 241 and 437 microgrammer per cubic meters -- about 4 times the permissible limit.
Chandni Chowk, Dwarka sub-city, Rohini, R.K. Puram, Narela and Punjabi Bagh were among the 18 regions out of 36 which reeled under 'severe" air quality with PM2.5 above 400 units.
The permissible limit for PM2.5 and PM10 is 60 and 80 units by national standards and 25 and 50 units by international standards.
Meanwhile, SAFAR advised people to avoid all outdoor physical activities and those with asthma to keep relief medication handy.
( With inputs from Agencies )