As air pollution levels remained alarmingly high, with a blanket of smog enveloping the city, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday announced that all schools in the Capital will remain shut for three days (from Monday till Wednesday). The decision was taken at an emergency Cabinet meeting, held at Mr. Kejriwal’s residence, to discuss measures to tackle the air pollution.
“The city has turned into a gas chamber mainly due to large-scale crop stubble burning in neighbouring States. But this is not the time for politics. The base level of pollution was already very high. We have consulted experts and we are taking some emergency measures,” Mr. Kejriwal said at a press conference held soon after the Cabinet meeting.
Odd-even may return The government is also considering bringing back the odd-even car rationing scheme to bring down the pollution levels. “Concerned departments are directed to start making preparations for the odd-even scheme to keep traffic emissions in check. We will make an assessment in the next few days and implement it, if need be,” the Chief Minister said.
All construction and demolition work in the city has also been banned for five days starting Monday. “All construction projects will be halted and no demolition drives will be carried out. The level of dust particles in the air is very high,” Mr. Kejriwal said. The government and other agencies will not carry out any construction work and projects have been put on hold.
He also announced that the coal-based Badarpur power plant would be shut for the next 10 days. He, however, gave an assurance that the power supply to the city would not be affected.
Delhi government mulling artificial rain to reduce dust
In efforts to combat the alarmingly high levels of pollution in the national capital, Chief Minister Arwind Kejriwal announced on Sunday that use of all diesel gen-sets has been prohibited for the next five days from Monday, except for emergency services like hospitals and mobile towers.
The government also decided to sprinkle water on roads of 100-foot width from Monday. The PWD will undertake the measure on all such roads at least once a week.
Work from home: CM
Addressing a press meet after an emergency cabinet meeting, Mr Kejriwal appealed to the people of Delhi to stay indoors and, if possible, work from home.
A committee comprising the chief secretary and the environment secretary will take up with the central government the possibility of engineering artificial rain over Delhi so that the dust settles down, the Chief Minister said, adding that the cabinet had received a proposal to go for artificial rain through cloud seeding
Mr. Kejriwal also announced that the government was looking at reducing vehicles on the roads by re-introducing the odd-even scheme. The decision comes a month after the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that there was no improvement in air quality in the city during the second phase of the odd-even scheme in April. The CPCB had monitored several pollutants between April 1-14 before the odd-even experiment and April 15-30 during it, to arrive at the conclusion.
The Chief Minister met Union Environment Minister Anil Dave on Saturday and discussed a series of measures to deal with the air pollution. Mr Dave has called an emergency meeting of environment ministers of Delhi and neighbouring States on Monday.
(With inputs from PTI)