New Delhi: Blaming neighbouring states for turning Delhi into a gas chamber, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal on Friday distributed over 50 lakh masks to school children and appealed other residents to use them.
"Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring states. It is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through pvt & govt schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh masks today. I urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed," Kejriwal tweeted.
Delhi has turned into a gas chamber due to smoke from crop burning in neighbouring statesIt is very imp that we protect ourselves from this toxic air. Through pvt & govt schools, we have started distributing 50 lakh masks todayI urge all Delhiites to use them whenever needed pic.twitter.com/MYwRz9euaq— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) November 1, 2019
He said the smoke emanating from stubble burning in Punjab and Haryana causes pollution in Delhi. "Please write letters to Captain uncle and Khattar uncle and say, 'Please think about our health'," he told children.
He also urged Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar and Punjab CM Capt Amarinder Singh to think about the health of children and take steps to stop stubble burning. The chief minister also urged students to help in stopping garbage burning in the national capital. "We have to stop garbage burning in Delhi. If you see anyone doing so, request them to not do it. If they do not listen, there is a WhatsApp number to report it," he said.
The blanket of haze over Delhi continued to thicken with the national capital's pollution levels increasing overnight by around 50 points, taking the overall air quality index to 459 on Friday morning.
A Central Pollution Control Board official said the AQI entered the "severe plus" or "emergency" category late Thursday night, the first time since January this year.
If the air quality persists in the "severe plus" category for more than 48 hours, emergency measures such as odd-even car rationing scheme, banning entry of trucks, construction activities and shutting down schools are taken under the Graded Response Action Plan, the official said.
The chief minister's appeal comes ahead of the odd-even scheme, which is all set to make a comeback in Delhi from Monday. The car rationing scheme, which the government says will help to reduce air pollution, will run till November 15.
Delhi: Three Bangladeshi players practice while wearing masks, ahead of the 1st T20i against India on November 3 at the Arun Jaitley Stadium. #IndvsBan pic.twitter.com/eAObQmV7GC— ANI (@ANI) November 1, 2019
All the 37 air quality monitoring stations across Delhi recorded the air quality in the severe category on Friday morning.
Bawana was the most-polluted area with an AQI of 497, followed by Delhi Technological University (487), Wazirpur (485), Anand Vihar (484) and Vivek Vihar (482).
Neighbouring Ghaziabad was the most-polluted city in the country, with the levels of PM2.5 — tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 microns that can enter deep into the lungs — reaching as high as 493. Greater Noida (480), Noida (477), and Faridabad (432) also breathed extremely polluted air.