Written byShalini Ojha ·
Every year, Delhi goes through the same old story- The government complains about stubble burning in neighboring states, Punjab, Haryana do little to stop the process, and people are asked to be "responsible" during Diwali.
But despite everything, smog blankets Delhi and residents find it difficult to breathe.
And this time, due to rising pollution, schools have been ordered to remain shut till Tuesday.
On Friday, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal made the announcement shortly after Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority declared a Public Health Emergency.
The Supreme Court-mandated panel took note of the fact that the pollution level in Delhi entered the "severe-plus" category on Thursday night.
Its chairperson Bhure Lal wrote a letter to Chief Secretaries of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi today.
"The air quality in Delhi/NCR has deteriorated further as of last night and is now at severe+ level. We have to take this as a public health emergency as air pollution will have an adverse health impact on all, particularly our children," the letter read.
As quick-fix methods to curb the rise in pollution, Lal said construction has been banned Delhi/NCR until Tuesday.
"All coal and other fuel-based industries which have not shifted to natural gas or agro-residue (with exemption to power-plants) to remain closed," the letter added.
Further, the panel also put a blanket ban on bursting crackers throughout the entire winter season.
Notably, Delhi and neighboring areas have been dealing with hazardous levels of pollution since Diwali. Though this time, the air quality index was better on the day after Diwali as compared to previous years, the situation worsened quickly in the last few days.
For the first time since January, AQI reached 459 last night.
In Bawana, AQI reached the highest and was recorded at 716.
To recall, Kejriwal's government had earlier announced that odd-even scheme will make a comeback in Delhi from November 4. The scheme, which allows odd-numbered cars on Delhi's roads on odd dates and even ones on even dates, will end on November 15.
This time, the state government will charge Rs. 4,000 from offenders as opposed to Rs. 2,000 earlier.
As Delhi is struggling, politicians are doing what they do best- engaging in a war of words.
Union Minister Prakash Javadekar asked Kejriwal to stop blaming stubble burning for the menace.
"Instead of blaming Punjab and Haryana, he should think about (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi-ji's proposal to curb pollutants produced by industries in five states (near Delhi)," he reportedly said.
While governments are sleeping, the onus to protect ourselves from pollution falls on us. If you want to stay safe, stay indoors as much as you can. In case going outdoors becomes absolutely necessary, use a mask.
Drink plenty of water as it flushes out pollutants. Consume foods that are rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Avoid junk food, and quit smoking.
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