The Delhi government may reintroduce its odd-even scheme to regulate vehicular movement, Mr Sisodia said.
New Delhi: The national capital on Tuesday gasped for oxygen as a toxic haze reduced visibility and affected flights and road and rail traffic, prompting the Delhi government to shut down primary schools on Wednesday. Moreover, all schools have been asked to stop outdoor activities, including morning assemblies.
“Government, municipal corporations, and private schools till Class 5 will remain closed on Wednesday,” deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia said. Junior classes will remain closed for some more days if the air quality doesn’t improve, he added.
The Delhi government may reintroduce its odd-even scheme to regulate vehicular movement, Mr Sisodia said. Under the formula, odd and even numbered vehicles ply on alternate days.
Delhiites woke up to a thick blanket of smog as pollution levels hit “severe” category on Tuesday and the levels of ultra fine particles surpassed the figures recorded during Diwali.
The government has also issued an advisory to all morning walkers, high-risk groups like small children, elderly, pregnant women, asthma patients, cardiac patients etc. to stay away from pollution/outdoor activities during early morning and evening hours.
Till Monday evening, the air quality index was in “very poor” category, but it deteriorated to “severe”, as the air pollution rose to hazardous levels by Tuesday morning, leaving Delhiites gasping for breath. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recorded the air quality index (AQI) at 448, on a scale of 500, many times above the prescribed standards. It was also much worse than the AQI of 403, recorded a day after Diwali.
Severe level triggers a serious risk of respiratory effects in general public and calls for a health warning of emergency conditions wherein everyone should avoid all physical activity outdoors.
As per SAFAR website, the average levels of ultra fine particles — PM (particulate matter) 10 and PM 2.5 in the air were six times higher than prescribed standards at 645 and 406 microgramme per cubic metre (ug/m3) respectively.
PM 2.5 particles are the finest pollutants capable of making inroads into human lung and blood tissues and increase the risk of heart and lung diseases. Out of the 17 monitoring stations at CPCB, 13 recorded ‘severe’ air quality level, highest being at Shadipur (486 ug/m3).