The pollution in the national capital and areas around it continued to remain in the 'severe' category on Thursday with the Air Quality Index (AQI) docking at 472, according to the Center-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR).
The AQI was recorded the highest in Chandni Chowk at 751, Airport at 538, Mathura Road and IIT Delhi at 500, Lodhi Road at 473, Delhi University at 472, Pusa at 463, Dhirpur at 459, and Ayanagar at 447. The AQI in Noida stood at 514 and Gurugram at 554. Thick toxic haze engulfed the Delhi-NCR region and not much improvement is expected till Friday.
The Delhi government had on Wednesday announced that all private and government-run schools in the national capital will remain closed till Friday due to the deteriorating air quality in the city. "In view of the deteriorating situation due to pollution caused by stubble burning in North India, the Delhi government has decided to close all the government and private schools in Delhi tomorrow and the day after," Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister Manish Sisodia had tweeted.
The Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority (EPCA) too has directed schools in Delhi-NCR to remain shut on Thursday and Friday. The anti-pollution body also ordered industries using coal and other such fuels and hot mix plants to remain closed till Friday.
In an attempt to reduce traffic congestion and tackle pollution, the odd-even road rationing scheme began in the national capital from November 4 and will go on till November 15. The initiative is applicable from 8 am to 8 pm. It was not applicable on November 10, Sunday. The road rationing scheme prohibits plying of private vehicles based on the last digit of their registration numbers. Vehicles with even digits are only allowed to ply on even days, and those with odd numbers on odd days. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has repeatedly blamed both Haryana and Punjab governments for the smog that has enveloped Delhi and its adjoining regions as a result of the burning of crop residue in the two states.
The Supreme Court has sought the Air Quality Index (AQI) data from the Delhi government from the day of implementation of the Odd-Even scheme till November 14, even as Kejriwal is mulling the extension of the scheme. Kejriwal on Wednesday said, "Delhi`s air quality is deteriorating due to stubble burning. However, it has reduced a little due to rains in Punjab and Haryana. If required, we will extend the Odd-Even scheme."