As air pollution soars in Delhi, schools to remain shut for two days 

Delhi-NCR had recorded its worst air quality a day after Diwali with AQI at 642 in 'severe plus emergency' category. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Nov 13, 2019, 08.57 PM (IST) Edited By: Sparshita Saxena

Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority on Wednesday issued recommendations directing schools in Delhi/NCR to remain shut for the coming two days in the wake worsening air quality

The anti-pollution body has also directed industries using coal and other such fuels, hot mix plants et cetera to remain closed till November 15, news agency ANI reported. 

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the AAP-led Delhi government to provide data on pollution levels in the national capital from the date on which the odd-even scheme commenced till November 14.

A bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta issued a notice to the Delhi government on a petition challenging the odd-even rationing scheme formulated by it.

The top court also asked the city government and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) to provide data on the air quality index (AQI) from October 1 to December 31 of last year.

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Cooler temperatures and lighter wind trapped heavy smog over the Indian capital on Wednesday, pushing pollution to "severe" levels in many places with no immediate relief in sight, government agencies said.

The overall air quality index (AQI) in the city was 494, according to the monitoring agency SAFAR.

The index measures the levels of airborne PM 2.5 - particles that can reach deep into the lungs. Anything above 60 is considered unhealthy.

With the cool season setting in, the city was likely to suffer for weeks, news agency Reuters reported. 

"Now that it is getting colder, air is not rising high enough to disperse pollutants. The whole trapping is happening close to the ground," said Anumita Roy Chowdhury, an executive director at Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based research and advocacy organisation.

The Central Pollution Control Board said pollution levels had touched 500 in some parts of the city, meaning danger for healthy people, not just those suffering from existing conditions.

Farmers burning stubble in their fields in areas around the city have been generating clouds of acrid smoke, SAFAR said, and the smog could get even worse.

"No sudden recovery is expected under this condition at least for the next two days and AQI is likely to deteriorate further," it said.

(With inputs from agencies)