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Centre Holds Meet as Smog Chokes Delhi; Punjab & Haryana Told to Reduce Fire Incidents, Dust Levels

Besides Delhi officials, the meeting will be attended by representatives of Punjab and Haryana governments via video-conference, officials said.


Updated:November 3, 2019, 9:41 PM IST
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Centre Holds Meet as Smog Chokes Delhi; Punjab & Haryana Told to Reduce Fire Incidents, Dust Levels
People walk on Rajpath in New Delhi on Friday. (Reuters)

New Delhi: The principal secretary to the prime minister and the cabinet secretary held a high-level meeting Sunday evening to discuss the issue of air pollution in Delhi-NCR after it reached its worst levels in recent years.

Besides Delhi officials, the meeting was attended by representatives of Punjab and Haryana governments via video-conference. P K Mishra, the principal secretary to the prime minister, and Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba held the meeting.

During the meeting, it was decided that the Cabinet Secretary will monitor the situation with these states on a daily basis. Chief Secretaries of these states have been asked to monitor the situation in various districts of their respective states on a 24x7 basis.

The Centre has asked neighboring states to reduce fire incidents and dust levels due to adverse meteorological conditions.

Pollution levels in Delhi and satellite towns shot up again on Sunday morning, with the reading on the air quality index shooting up to 999-mark in several areas.

"Pollution has reached unbearable levels," Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted Sunday.

Visibility was so poor that major carriers Air India and Vistara said Sunday flights were being delayed or diverted to and from Delhi's airports. Thirty-seven flights have been diverted to Jaipur, Amritsar and Lucknow.

Authorities have announced a public health emergency in the national capital. Schools have been shut in Delhi, Noida, Faridabad, Gurugram and Meerut till Tuesday.

“It's actually scary - you can't see things in front of you," protester Jaivipra told AFP at a rally in Delhi on Sunday calling for politicians to do more to curb pollution.

Nurses at the demonstration said they were seeing more people suffering from respiratory problems. "Patients are coming with more lung and respiratory diseases, like more (are) affected with asthma," Reshma CM said.

Students from various universities in Delhi also formed a human chain at Central Park, Connaught Place, registering their protest against government's inability to handle the rising pollution level in Delhi.

The students demanded measures to counter the health emergency, including free Delhi Metro rides for an entire month to control vehicular pollution, 10,000 CNG buses and enforcement of measures to control industrial pollution.

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