Delhi continues to reel under noxious haze after a brief relief last week. Delhi-NCR residents seem to have no respite from the increasing air pollution even as Friday is the last day for the Odd-Even rule in the national capital. People continue to struggle for fresh air for the third successive day (Thursday) of thick smog and deteriorating Delhi's air quality. Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government is still uncertain regarding the extension of the Odd-Even road rationing system in Delhi, even as a public health emergency is being declared in the capital.
The condition has so much worsened in Delhi and adjoining areas that several children wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi exhorting him to take appropriate steps to improve the air quality and ensure clean air for them.
Meanwhile, Friday is not expected to be any better as the weather forecasters have predicted a similar situation owing to the impact of a western disturbance which is the primary cause of the dense cloud cover and a drop in wind speed.
As the government's air quality information service SAFAR, the overall Air Quality Index (AQI) in Delhi on Friday was registered at 482 falling under the "Severe" classification with PM10 at 504 and PM2.5 at 332.
In areas such as Mathura Road in Delhi, the AQI was registered at 524 (PM10) at 6.07 am on Friday, it was 505 (PM10) at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) airport, whereas Chandni Chowk recorded an AQI of 478 (PM10) and 475 (PM2.5).
The adjoining areas such as Noida registered an AQI of 583 at 6.07 am on Friday. Ghaziabad which is considered as India's most polluted city recorded an AQI of 456 (PM2.5).
Kejriwal govt uncertain about Odd-Even extension
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal receive a lot of flak on Thursday for not deciding on the further extension of the Odd-Even rule in Delhi as it entered its final day on Friday. The road rationing rule to curb pollution came into effect on November 4.
"A final decision about extending the odd-even rule could be taken on Friday, depending on the situation of air pollution and outcome of a hearing pertaining to the scheme in the Supreme Court," a Delhi government functionary told India Today.
CM Kejriwal however, earlier said that the government may extend the scheme if needed. "We are thinking of extending the Odd-Even scheme. If needed, we will extend the scheme," Mr Kejriwal said on Wednesday.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued a notice to the Delhi government on a plea challenging the odd-even road rationing scheme in the national capital. The top court also directed it to show the data of pollution in Delhi from October till November 14 this year. The bench also directed Delhi government to submit pollution data from October 1 to December 31, 2018.
Meanwhile, the schools also remained shut on Thursday as the deteriorating air quality continued to take its toll on the residents in Delhi and adjoining areas.