3 Nov 2023

Delhi Air Turns Toxic, Pollution Level Reaches Severe Category, GRAP-3 Implemented, Schools Closed For 2 Days, Hospitals Witness Surge In Patients

Due to the severe deterioration of Delhi's air quality, the Pollution Control Board of the central government issued a directive on Thursday, implementing measures to combat the crisis. These actions are part of the third phase of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), a scheme aimed at controlling air pollution in Delhi-NCR during the winter season. At 5 pm on Thursday, Delhi's air quality index (AQI) registered at 402, which is severe. Pollution levels in the national capital reached the "severe" category for the first time this season and with this the air has turned toxic and could severely impact people's health.


Pollution levels could worsen further 

During a meeting convened to assess the air quality situation in Delhi-NCR, the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM) highlighted the likelihood of pollution levels worsening further due to adverse weather and climatic conditions. CAQM is a statutory body responsible for developing strategies to address pollution in the region.

GRAP is categorized into four phases based on the air quality index. The first stage is activated when the AQI falls within the range of 201 to 300 (poor), the second stage at 301 to 400 (very poor), the third stage at 401 to 450 (severe), and the fourth stage is applied when the AQI exceeds 450 (very severe).

These restrictions applicable in GRAP-3

In the third phase of GRAP, there is a comprehensive ban on construction and demolition activities, with exceptions made for essential government projects, mining, and stone-breaking operations. Furthermore, this phase entails restrictions on the entry of light commercial vehicles, diesel-powered trucks, and medium to heavy goods vehicles, except for those involved in essential services and registered outside Delhi.

Schools closed for 2 days

In response to the escalating pollution levels, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the closure of all government and private primary schools in Delhi for the next two days. This action was taken as pollution levels in the national capital reached the "severe" category for the first time this season. 

Scientists have predicted that pollution will continue to worsen over the next two weeks. In a statement on 'X', the Chief Minister wrote, "In light of the increasing pollution levels, all government and private primary schools in Delhi will remain closed for the next two days."

Rising pollution a significant health hazard

The escalating pollution levels in Delhi pose a significant health hazard, increasing the risk of respiratory, cardiovascular, and dermatological ailments. Medical professionals have identified pollution as a prominent contributor to skin issues, particularly psoriasis. The populace is experiencing discomfort, including eye irritation, sore throats, and breathing difficulties due to the rising pollution levels. Even unborn children are being affected by this environmental threat.

Hospitals witnessing a surge in patients

While air quality has deteriorated to the 'severe' category in multiple areas of Delhi, local hospitals are witnessing a surge in patients reporting symptoms such as coughing, throat infections, eye irritation, and runny noses. Furthermore, pollution has exacerbated the conditions of individuals with pre-existing 'bronchial asthma.' This adverse impact is not confined to a specific age group, affecting people of all ages.

Both government and private healthcare experts have advised against engaging in outdoor activities or morning walks and have recommended the use of masks when venturing outside. On Thursday, many parts of Delhi recorded 'severe' air quality, and the city has experienced persistent fog over the past three days.

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