Delhi air pollution close to ‘emergency’ levels.
New Delhi: As pollution levels in the national capital hovered close to emergency levels, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday that the Odd-Even scheme could be extended, if need arises.
The road rationing scheme started on November 4 and is expected to end on November 15. The Supreme Court also issued notice to the Delhi government on a plea challenging the odd-even scheme.
A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta also directed the Delhi government and the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to place before it the data of pollution in Delhi from October till November 14 this year.
Mr Kejriwal appealed to Opposition parties, which have termed the scheme an “election stunt” of the AAP government, to shun their resistance to the scheme. “Pollution has increased drastically. All of Delhi is demanding Odd-Even and at such a time the Opposition should support the people’s cause,” he said.
“If need arises, we will extend it (Odd-Even scheme),” Mr Kejriwal said in response to media queries on whether the initiative aimed at curbing vehicular pollution will be extended.
On Wednesday, the noxious smog resulting from raging farm fires and unfavourable weather, pushed pollution levels in the region towards the “emergency” zone for the third time in 15 days.
Mr Kejriwal blamed stubble burning in neighbouring states for repeated episodes of smog in Delhi and said it has hit Delhi’s image worldwide.
“I remember German Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Delhi a few days ago when a public health emergency was declared. What kind of image of Delhi she must have carried to her country?” he said.
According to the government’s air quality monitor SAFAR, the share of stubble burning in Delhi’s pollution is predicted to be 22 per cent on Wednesday. It was 25 per cent on Tuesday.
The EPCA on Wednesday ordered schools in Delhi-NCR to be closed for the next two days. All coal and other fuel-based industries, which have not shifted to natural gas or agro-residue, will remain shut in Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bahadurgarh, Bhiwadi, Greater Noida, Sonepat and Panipat till November 15, it said.
It also advised people to avoid outdoor exposure and work from home wherever feasible.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority also extended the ban on hot-mix plants and stone-crushers in Delhi-NCR till Friday.
The apex court had on November 4 banned construction and demolition activities in the region till further orders.