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August 13, 2021

Delhi Trapped In Smog, Flights Delayed; Noida Schools Shut Till Tuesday

The air pollution levels in Delhi made a huge jump this morning, going deeper into the “emergency” zone. From yesterday’s 407, the Air Quality Index or AQI rose to 625, reducing visibility significantly and hampering air and road traffic in the city. The situation in the surrounding townships was no better — Noida shut all schools till Tuesday. Delhi is expected to begin its odd-even road rationing scheme from tomorrow. But there was no word from Punjab or Haryana, where stubble burning by farmers triggers a crisis in Delhi and adjoining areas every winter.
Pollution levels at Dhirpur in west Delhi was at 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. Pollution levels in Noida, Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Faridabad also recorded between severe to hazardous with PMs ranging from 400 to 709.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal urged the centre to take immediate steps to provide relief to the people. He said his government will support all the initiatives taken by the centre to control pollution. “Pollution has reached unbearable levels across North India. Delhi government taken many steps. Delhiites have made many sacrifices. Delhi suffering for no fault of theirs. Punjab CM also expressed concern. Centre should take immediate steps to provide relief. We will support Centre in all initiatives,” he tweeted.

In the morning, airlines tweeted to update their passengers about changes in flight schedules. Air India tweeted to say 12 of their flights have been diverted due to “Delhi weather conditions”.

The pollution in the National Capital Region was declared a public health emergency on Friday by the Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority after pollution levels entered into the “emergency” category for the first time since January.

Air quality in the national capital plummeted post-Diwali, which Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said was the “lowest in five years”. Mr Kejriwal has asked the Centre to address the issue, saying air pollution “is a North India issue” and requires a North India solution under the “chairmanship” of the Union Minister for environment.

On Saturday, his deputy Manish Sisodia accused Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar of postponing meetings with state environment ministers thrice — on September 12, October 17 and on October 19 — saying either he has no time for the pollution in the national capital.

Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar also wrote to Mr Javadekar for a meeting of chief ministers. Without naming anyone, he, however, criticised the “growing tendency” of some stakeholders to “play petty politics” on the issue.

The Delhi government is implementing the Odd-Even scheme from November 4 to 15. Under the road rationing scheme, vehicles with odd and even-numbered registration plates will run on odd and even days of the week.

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