A public health emergency has been declared in Delhi and NCR by the pollution control body mandated by the Supreme Court, as the region has been trapped in a toxic smog since Diwali.
Educational institutes will now be closed till Tuesday, November 5, Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal tweeted.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) banned construction activity till November 5 as the pollution level in the region entered the “severe plus” or “emergency” category late Thursday night.
Thursday recorded its worst pollution levels over the past 10 months.
The pollution authority has also banned the bursting of crackers during the winter season.
Arvind Kejriwal blamed neighbouring states of Haryana and Punjab, where thousands of farmers burn their crop stubble, sending clouds of smoke across north India.
The Chief Minister was spotted distributing masks to schoolchildren.
Officials will ring in odd-even car rationing scheme and ban entry of trucks if the air quality continues to be in the “severe plus” category for more than 48 hours.
“People have also been advised to not exercise in the open till the pollution level reduces and special care should be taken of the children, aged and vulnerable population. “This is a grave situation and I am hoping for your personal intervention so that there is stringent enforcement and full compliance with the directions issued,” EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said in a statement.
Delhi is one of the world’s most polluted cities and every winter, seasonal crop stubble burning, dense cloud cover and smoke from millions of Diwali firecrackers turn its skies yellow.