Residents have been urged to work from home as well as unloaded vehicles due to air pollution in New Delhi hitting hard.
New Delhi closed schools until further notice, urging people to work from home and prevent unnecessary vehicles from entering India’s capital due to air pollution.
One of the most polluted cities in the world – with a population of about 20 million – New Delhi is covered every winter with a black blanket of smoke.
On Saturday, the government of Delhi ordered schools to close for one week and to halt construction for four days.
But in a statement released late Tuesday, the Commission for Air Quality Management in Delhi said all schools should be closed until further notice.
Five coal mines around New Delhi were temporarily closed, according to an air pollution control group, which comes under the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change.
Vehicles except those carrying essential goods were banned from entering the capital until November 21 and many construction projects in Delhi and neighboring cities were suspended, it said.
“Smoke rifles” and water cannons were ordered to operate in public places at least three times a day.
The agency also says that at least 50 percent of government employees are required to work from home until November 21 and encourage those in the private sector to follow through.
The law comes a few days after the Delhi government refused to be summoned by the Supreme Court of India to announce a “demolition closure” – first – that would prevent the city’s people from relocating.
The Supreme Court also rebuked governments and states for failing to reduce pollution.
New Delhi, one of the world’s most polluted cities, is struggling to cope with winter smoke each year because lower temperatures shut down deadly pollutants from outside the city’s electricity-burning industries, car exhaust, construction, and waste disposal .
One of the main causes of winter pollution is the smoke of farmers burning their crop residues in neighboring countries.
The government, however, told the Supreme Court that the industry was the main culprit behind the car and dust damage.
This week, levels of 2.5 PM – harmful substances that are small enough to enter a person’s bloodstream when inhaled in the lungs, causing lung and heart disease – have risen to more than 400 in several parts of the city.
Last week, the figures hit 500, which is 30 times higher than the World Health Organization’s target.
The Lancet report in 2020 said that about 17,500 people died in Delhi in 2019 due to air pollution. A report from the Swiss agency IQAir last year found that 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world were located in India.