New Delhi: Air pollution levels in the national capital escalated to hazardous and visibility dropped significantly as a thick blanket of smog engulfed several parts of the city on Sunday morning.
Notably, for the first time in this season, the Air Quality Index (AQI) docked as high as 625 at 10 in the morning despite light drizzles in the early hours.
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 is "severe-plus emergency" category.
In Dhirpur, the AQI was 509, while in Delhi University area it was 591. In Delhi's famous Chandni Chowk area, the AQI was recorded at 432 while in Lodhi road it was 537.
Apart from the capital, Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad and Noida are also reeling under the wave of severe air pollution. In both places, the AQI has crossed the mark of 600.
The poor visibility has affected flight operations at the Delhi airport.
#TravelUpdate Due to dense fog and poor visibility in Delhi, arrivals / departures from Delhi delayed with consequential impact across network. Please visit https://t.co/9eL33N630U or SMS UK— Vistara (@airvistara) November 3, 2019
to 9289228888 for updated flight status. Thank you.
People residing in these areas complained of eye irritation and suffocation due to deteriorating air quality.
"We are athletes and have most of the events in the winter seasons. This thick smog is affecting our health making it difficult to breathe in the poisonous air. The government must do something about it," Prashant Shukla, a local from Ghaziabad, told ANI.
Another local from Ghaziabad, Mukul Sharma, also narrated his ordeal and said, "I am coughing too much these days. I do not know how to safeguard myself from increasing air pollution. The government must tighten the noose around stubble burning."
Also, in the Gautam Budh Nagar area, the Noida Authority conducted checking at various construction sites and arrested 27 people for flouting the construction ban.
"The construction is banned in Noida from November 1 to 5. We have conducted checking at sector 75, 35 and 72. We have arrested 27 people for flouting the ban. We will continue to conduct checks at construction sites," said an official from Noida Authority.
All government and private schools up till Class 12 in Noida and Greater Noida will remain closed on November 4 and 5 in the wake of spike in the pollution level, officials said on Sunday.
The Gautam Buddh Nagar administration said the decision has been taken as the levels of particulate matter 2.5 and 10 have been excessive in the air since Diwali, resulting in a major dip in the overall air quality. "Transport vehicles like buses and minibuses, which a lot of schools use to ferry children, are a major contributor of PM 2.5 and PM 10.
The movement of such vehicles in the city now could aggravate the situation," District Magistrate B N Singh said in a written order. "Hence, it is ordered that all schools up till Class 12 in Gautam Buddh Nagar will remain closed on November 4 and 5," he said.
To combat the menace of air pollution, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi has announced the implementation of the Odd-Even scheme from November 4 to 15, 2019. He has repeatedly said that the smog from the nearby states caused by the burning of crop residue is the major cause of pollution in the region.