A Supreme Court-mandated panel on Friday declared a public health emergency within the Delhi-NCR region and prohibited construction activity until November 5. The blanket of smog over Delhi thickened on Friday morning with the national capital’s pollution levels increasing overnight.
Out of 37 monitoring stations in the capital from which the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) collates data, all except five (for which data could not be computed), showed air quality in the ‘severe’ category.
PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY IN DELHI
A public health emergency has been declared in Delhi on Friday after the air quality in the national capital further dipped to the dangerous “severe-plus” category. The skies of Delhi-NCR, which has been covered in a thick blanket of grey smoke turned thicker on Friday morning.
A Central Pollution Control Board official said that the Air Quality Index (AQI) entered the “severe-plus” or “emergency” category early Friday morning. According to official data, the overall AQI was 504 at 3.30 am.
An AQI between 0-50 is appraised “good”, 51-100 “satisfactory”, 101-200 “moderate”, 201-300 “poor”, 301-400 “very poor”, and 401-500 “severe”. Above 500 is “severe-plus or emergency” category. The Delhi government on Friday decided to close schools till November 5 after the public health emergency in the Delhi-NCR region in the wake of the rising levels of pollution.
EPCA has also advised people to confirm that they minimize personal exposure as much as possible / don’t exercise in open till pollution levels are reduced and in particular, minimize the exposure of children, the aged, and vulnerable. Schools in the city will be shut until November 5.
Calling it a grave situation, it has also asked to increase carefulness and enforcement in hot spots of Okhla phase two, Dwarka, Ashok Vihar, Bawana, Narela, Mundka, Punjabi Bagh, Wazirpur, among others in Delhi.
Hot spots in the neighboring states including Faridabad, Bahadurgarh, Gurugram in Haryana, Sahibabad in Uttar Pradesh, and Bhiwadi in Rajasthan. From Monday, Delhi government’s car rationing ‘odd-even’ scheme will also start and will continue till November 15.
According to the forecast by India Meteorological Department (IMD), a western disturbance is set to enter Delhi between November 2-3 and could bring good winds that may help in the dispersion of pollutants.
THINGS TO AVOID
1. Avoid using bigger roads with more traffic. Pollution is significantly less on smaller roads and bylanes that are off the main road.
2. Don’t burn garbage, plastics, and other discarded items in the outdoors. Stop neighbors from burning any such items either.
3. Avoid outdoor activity as much as possible. Mornings must be avoided even more as the smog cover is the most severe early in the morning.
4. Don’t burn any firecrackers. Authorities have already put a ban on all crackers burning this winter.
HEALTH HAZARDS TO WATCH OUT FOR
According to a PTI report, hospitals in Delhi have seen a sudden spike in the number of patients reporting with respiratory and breathing complications.
Severe air pollution can cause eye burning, eye-watering, Breathing and respiratory difficulty, asthma problems and allergy and Chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases.
Besides affecting lungs, high levels of pollutants in the atmosphere cause inflammation in blood vessels and may lead to hardening of arteries which can act as a trigger for stroke or heart attack in persons, already at risk of the disease, said AIIMS Director Randeep Guleria.