Pollution levels spiked to severe levels in Delhi with thick haze blanketing the city on Tuesday, reducing visibility drastically and affecting flights and trains, prompting chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to describe the national capital as a “gas chamber”.
The air quality index (AQI) – a measure of the level of pollutants in the air – shot past 400 in many places in Delhi by 9.30 am, the second time since Diwali and potentially signalled the start of Delhi’s notoriously toxic winter.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) also issued a stern warning on potential health hazards, describing Delhi as a “public health emergency state” and asking authorities to shut schools as a precautionary measure.
Officials at the weather department said the weather was expected to remain cloudy for the next two to three days and the temperature to fall further, suggesting any immediate respite from the prevailing conditions was unlikely.
Chief minister Kejriwal said he had requested education minister Manish Sisodia to ‘consider closing schools for a few days’. “Delhi has become a gas chamber. Every year this happens during this part of year. We have to find a solution to crop burning in adjoining states,” Kejriwal tweeted as AQI measurements indicated presence of tiny particulate matter (PM) that can penetrate deep into human lungs and cause severe respiratory problems.