India's capital announces restrictions after 'alarming' air pollution levels
Authorities in the national capital New Delhi on Friday announced more restrictions, including the closure of primary schools, as the air pollution situation in the capital reached "alarming levels," News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency.
According to the data from India's state-run System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the overall Air quality level of Delhi on Friday evening was in the "severe category."
Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal said that outdoor activities for students above class five will now remain suspended and warned that measures like restricting vehicles on roads would also be considered.
As the city and adjoining areas remained engulfed by the thick layer of smog, authorities in the last few days have announced steps like halting construction work, but it has not helped much.
"It is not the problem of Delhi alone. It is the problem of the entire northern India," said Kejriwal, who heads the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The chief minister said that in neighboring Punjab – also ruled by AAP – the government has taken a number of steps to control stubble burning by farmers.
Stubble burning has been considered a major contributing factor to air pollution.
Farmers in north India set fire to their fields at the onset of winter in order to clear crop stubble from harvested rice paddies.
"More steps will be taken so that incidence of stubble burning is reduced by next year," he said.
Delhi's Environment Minister Gopal Rai also said on Friday that the government offices in the capital will run at 50% capacity. In the neighboring Noida city, the administration on Thursday had ordered schools to conduct classes online for students up to the eighth grade.
Rai listed measures being taken to reduce pollution, including the use of new eco-friendly buses and setting up 33 teams to monitor industrial pollution.
Air pollution has become a persistent problem in New Delhi over recent years and the city is often ranked as the most polluted capital in the world.
The issue is particularly aggravated in the winter season from November to January when farmers in nearby areas burn crop stubble and add to the emissions of coal-fired plants and industrial units around the city.
According to Greenpeace, a global environmental group, the 2021 World Air Quality Report for the fourth consecutive year found New Delhi as the most polluted capital city in the World.