The Supreme Court will hear today the Delhi government’s proposal on the imposition of a possible lockdown to curb air pollution in the national capital. It had earlier termed the rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR as an "emergency situation", stressing that superficial measures won't cut it.
A visible improvement in Delhi's air quality was recorded on Sunday although it was in the very poor category while the city's Environment Minister Gopal Rai said his government will submit a lockdown proposal to the Supreme Court on Monday to reduce pollution further.
The national capital recorded a 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) of 330 on Sunday as against 437 the previous day as emissions from farm fires in Haryana and Punjab dropped significantly. The AQI was at 471 on Friday, the worst this season so far.
The air quality index of neighbouring Ghaziabad, Gurgaon, Noida, Faridabad, Greater Noida was recorded at 331, 287, 321, 298 and 310, respectively.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered 'good', 51 and 100 'satisfactory', 101 and 200 'moderate', 201 and 300 'poor', 301 and 400 'very poor', and 401 and 500 'severe'.
The India Meteorological Department said visibility levels ranged from 1,500 to 2,200 metres at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and from 1,000 to 1,500 metres at the Safdarjung Airport.
The apex court had on Saturday termed the rise in pollution levels an "emergency situation" and suggested clamping a lockdown in the national capital.
The Delhi government has already announced the closure of physical classes in schools, colleges and other educational institutions, except those where exams are being conducted, for a week from Monday.
All government offices, agencies and autonomous bodies, except those involved in essential services, have been directed to ask employees to work from home. No construction and demolition activity is allowed in the capital till November 17.
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) has asked Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to consider implementing similar restrictions to contain spiralling air pollution levels.
The state governments and district administrations in the National Capital Region have also been suggested to issue a 'citizen charter/advisory' for the public on steps that need to be taken during various stages of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP).
The Ministry of Earth Sciences' air quality forecasting agency SAFAR said transport-level winds are "slowing down resulting in the lesser intrusion of farm fires-related pollutants into Delhi".
Over 3,400 farm fires accounted for 12 per cent of Delhi's PM2.5 pollution on Sunday, down from 31 per cent on Saturday. The share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution ranged from 25 per cent to 48 per cent from November 4 to November 13.
SAFAR said the air quality in Delhi may improve a little over the next two days due to the restrictions on anthropogenic activities if the share of stubble burning does not increase.
The air quality is likely to deteriorate from the night of 16 November due to calm wind conditions. On 17 November, it is likely to be in the upper end of the very poor category, the agency said.