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EPCA declares health emergency in Delhi-NCR; schools closed till November 5

The EPCA also prohibited the construction activities in Delhi and NCR till the morning of November 5 while bursting of crackers has been completely banned for the entire winter season. "This is a public health emergency as air pollution is now hazardous and will have adverse health impacts on all particularly the children," said Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority.

EPCA declares health emergency in Delhi-NCR; schools closed till November 5

A public health emergency was declared in Delhi and NCR on Friday by the Environment Pollution (Prevention&Control) Authority due to severe deterioration of air quality in the region. The Delhi government has ordered the closure of all schools in Delhi till November 5. 

The EPCA also prohibited the construction activities in Delhi and NCR till the morning of November 5 while bursting of crackers has been completely banned for the entire winter season. "This is a public health emergency as air pollution is now hazardous and will have adverse health impacts on all particularly the children," said Environment Pollution (Prevention & Control) Authority.

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In its advisory, the EPCA said, "Air pollution is at severe+ levels, which is hazardous for health. People are advised to ensure that they minimise personal exposure as far as possible/do not exercise in the open till pollution levels are reduced and in particular minimise the exposure of children, aged and vulnerable"

It also said, "Schools are advised to work to minimise exposure of children by curtailing all outdoor activities and sports for this period."

The air quality in Delhi and its adjoining areas - Ghaziabad, Gurugram, Faridabad and Noida - further deteriorated on Friday as it plunged to 'severe' category. The Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi was recorded at 425 in the morning and at places like Lodhi Road, Delhi University, airport and Mathura Road, the AQI was 401, 452, 482 and 464, respectively. The visibility came down to 600 metres in the early hours of Friday. 

As of now, Ghaziabad and Noida are most polluted with AQI at 491 and 471, respectively. The AQI in Gurugram is said to be at 421. "The overall air quality in Delhi continues to be in the 'severe' category. The calm surface wind condition that prevails last two days over Delhi has led to strong surface nocturnal inversion and accumulation of pollutants. The effective stubble fire counts of Northwest India (Haryana & Punjab) has increased from the previous day count of 1057 to 2396," Center-run System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) said on Friday. 

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday distributed masks to school students following rise in pollution levels in the city. "People are facing difficulty in breathing, and to provide relief, we're distributing two masks to each student in private and government t schools," Arvind Kejriwal told ANI, while distributed masks to school students.

The Air quality in 'severe' category in areas around Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium and India Gate, according to Central Pollution Control Board.

The Delhi Chief Minister, tweeted about distributing over 50 lakh N95 masks to Delhiites struggling to breathe, saying "Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states. It is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through pvt & govt schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh masks today. I urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed."