Smoke and moisture from Punjab, Haryana turn Delhi into a 'gas chamber'
A combination of smoke from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana and moisture turned Delhi into a "gas chamber" yesterday, prompting authorities to announce a series of preventive measures including a four-fold hike in parking fees and slashing of metro fares. The smog brought down visibility levels, affecting flight and train operations. The heavy air permeated living rooms and even the underground metro stations in the city making it difficult to breathe, turning eyes watery.
Primary schools closed
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia has announced that primary schools in the national capital will remain closed today. Schools have been asked to stop outdoor activities. The air quality index was in the 'severe', with a score of 448 in a scale of 500, category for the second time this year. Earlier, Diwali fireworks had triggered peak pollution levels on October 20. The National Green Tribunal took the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana to task, seeking to know why steps were not taken despite knowing well in advance that such a situation was likely to arise.
The Indian Medical Association said Delhi was witnessing a "public health emergency". Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) member secretary A Sudhakar said the intensity of pollution peaked since Monday night as moisture-heavy winds from UP and hot winds carrying emissions from stubble burning from Punjab and Haryana have dealt a double-whammy. "We are not expecting a dramatic change in the next two-three days. Shallow fog and a complete absence of wind are preventing the dissipation of pollutants at the ground level," Sudhakar said.