NEW DELHI: The air quality in Delhi and its surrounding areas deteriorated to the ‘severe’ category once more on Wednesday, largely attributed to the smoke resulting from the burning of post-harvest paddy straw in neighboring states.

This agricultural practice accounted for more than a third of the air pollution in the national capital.
The city’s 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI), measured at 4 pm each day, was at 426, indicating a deterioration from the reading of 395 recorded on Tuesday.

Numerous cities throughout the Indo-Gangetic plains registered hazardous air quality levels.
Neighboring areas such as Ghaziabad (384), Gurgaon (385), Noida (405), Greater Noida (478), and Faridabad (425) also reported similarly alarming air quality conditions.
Based on information from the Decision Support System, a numerical model-based framework designed to identify sources of particulate matter pollution in Delhi, it was determined that on Wednesday, stubble burning in neighboring states, particularly Punjab and Haryana, contributed to 38 percent of the air pollution in Delhi.
This contribution is expected to decrease to 27 percent on Thursday.
Due to the deteriorating air quality, the Delhi government made the decision on Wednesday to adjust the December winter break for all schools.
The new schedule has been set from November 9 to November 18.

No app-based taxis

Delhi environment minister Gopal Rai announced that the entry of app-based taxis into Delhi has been prohibited in compliance with the Supreme Court’s directive.
Officials, however, pointed out that only a detailed order will make it clear if the ban will come into effect from this week or be effective during the implementation of the odd-even car rationing scheme.
The transport department will issue a detailed order on the issue and it will clear things, they said.
Furthermore, he stated that the odd-even car rationing scheme will be put into effect in the national capital once the Supreme Court assesses its efficacy and provides an order regarding its implementation.
The next hearing on this matter is scheduled for Friday.
On Tuesday, the highest court raised doubts about the effectiveness of the Delhi government’s car rationing scheme, designed to mitigate vehicular pollution, and referred to it as being primarily for show or “all optics.”

Odd-even scheme

In anticipation of a further decline in air quality following the Diwali festival, Gopal Rai announced on Monday that the flagship odd-even car rationing scheme, which allows cars to be driven on alternate days based on the last digit of their registration numbers (odd or even), would be implemented from November 13 to November 20.
The government also issued instructions for the immediate reactivation of the Connaught Place smog tower and initiated a study to pinpoint the sources of pollution in the capital.
These two projects had reportedly been halted without government notification, as per Gopal Rai’s claims, by the Chairman of the Delhi Pollution Control Committee (DPCC), Ashwani Kumar.
According to the ministry of earth sciences’ Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi-NCR, the region is likely to experience ‘severe’ air quality for another five to six days.

You smoke 10 cigarettes a day

Doctors say breathing in the polluted air of Delhi is equivalent to the harmful effects of smoking approximately 10 cigarettes a day.
Prolonged exposure to high levels of pollution can cause or exacerbate respiratory problems such as asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and dramatically raise the risk of cardiovascular disease, said Rajesh Chawla, senior consultant in pulmonology and critical care at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital.
Stringent restrictions mandated under the final stage of the Central government’s air pollution control plan for Delhi-NCR called the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), have also been implemented in the capital.
The restrictions under Stage IV of GRAP, including a ban on all kinds of construction work and the entry of polluting trucks into Delhi, took effect on Sunday after the air quality in the city dropped to ‘severe plus’ (AQI above 450) levels.
GRAP categorises actions into four stages: Stage I – Poor (AQI 201-300); Stage II – Very Poor (AQI 301-400); Stage III – Severe (AQI 401-450); and Stage IV – Severe Plus (AQI above 450).
With agency inputs

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