Delhi air pollution: Schools, colleges, thermal plants shut; offices asked to do 50% WFH
The Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) issued several directives to Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh to address the city's and surrounding territories' air pollution situation.
Delhi's overall air quality index remained in the 'very bad' category on Wednesday morning, at 379 at 7 am. Meanwhile, on Tuesday night, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) issued several directives to Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh to address the city's and surrounding territories' air pollution situation. As a result of the national capital region's poor air quality, all schools, colleges, and educational institutions in Delhi-NCR have been ordered to remain closed till further notice. Institutions that were starting to reopen after being shuttered due to the Covid-19 outbreak will have to switch to an online style of instruction. As a result, educational institutions will most certainly resume offering online programmes, as they did during the Covid shutdown.
The CAQM's nine-page ruling also directed NCR state governments (Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh) to enable at least 50% of its employees to work from home until November 21. According to the regulation, private enterprises in the Delhi NCR must also be "encouraged" to enable at least 50% of its employees to work from home.
In addition to WFH directives and the cancellation of presential courses for schools and universities, the order asks for "severe penalties on persons/organizations responsible for piling construction materials... or rubbish on roadways in NCR" and "increase availability of road-sweeping machinery in NCR."
The Delhi NCR's construction and demolition projects have also been halted till November 21, except for railway services/stations, Metro operations, airports and bus terminals, and national security or defence-related activities and projects. Notably, only five of the 11 thermal power plants in the Delhi NCR would be operational. The NCR states and Delhi have also been asked to prohibit trucks from entering the national capital, except those transporting critical items. This is also only valid until November 21 and is subject to change.
This comes after an emergency conference on the Delhi-NCR pollution situation was conducted on Tuesday. The measures are to go into effect immediately. On November 22, state governments are required to produce compliance reports. The CAQM ruling comes as the Delhi administration and the central government face awkward questions from the Supreme Court over the absence of emergency preparedness and response to the air quality problem.