Delhi is choking again and with the drastic spikes in the pollution levels, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority [EPCA] has directed to shut down the schools in Delhi-NCR till November 15. The directive came in on Wednesday in response to the alarming levels of environmental distress.
EPCA is a statutory body which was constituted in 1988 by the central government at the behest of the Supreme Court. It holds the power to file criminal complaints (under Section 19 of the Act) before courts if its directions are not followed.
People are also advised by The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to avoid any outdoor exposure and work from home.
The order for school closure was recommended by the CPCB, which was later directed by the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority. The Delhi government then announced the order to close the schools for November 14 and 15.
Hot-mix plants and stone-crushers which were banned in Delhi-NCR in the wake of Delhi’s pollution crisis will further remain closed till November 15 in all the districts of NCR. The court on November 4 ordered a ban on construction and demolishing activities in the region till further notice.
The EPCA has said that the industries using coal and other such fuel-based industries, which have now shifted to natural gas or agro-residue, will also remain closed in the districts of Faridabad, Gurugram, Ghaziabad, Noida, Bahadurgarh, Bhiwadi, Greater Noida, Sonepat, Panipat till November 15. The industries which are yet to shift to piped natural gas will also not be operating during the period.
The Delhi government ordered to close the schools till November 5 earlier this month. This directive came into place after a public health emergency was declared by the EPCA due to the rise in pollution levels post-Diwali.
In view of the current situation, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal mentioned about the possibilities of extending the odd-even road rationing scheme beyond November 15.
A meeting of the CPCB-led task force was held on Wednesday to review the ongoing situation. An official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) revealed at the meeting that the ‘severe plus’ category of the air pollution is due to the low surface winds, low mixing depth and contribution from fires due to northwesterly winds. The situation is expected to continue until Thursday.
He further added that November 15 will mark the arrival of strong winds which will lead to the decline in the pollution levels to the very poor category.
Delhi is facing a tough time with pollution levels in the region racing towards the “emergency” zone. Factors such as smog resulting from raging farm fires and unfavourable weather have resulted in such a mishap.
Delhi is gasping for breath but little is known about the stern actions yet to be taken to get the situation in control. People are suffering and small children are on the verge of serious health issues. It is high time to think seriously about actual solutions rather than alternates before any other emergencies hit the capital.