By Ahmad Adil
NEW DELHI (AA) – As air quality in the Indian capital continues to deteriorate, a government panel on tackling pollution has ordered a halt to non-essential construction work in New Delhi and its adjoining areas.
Pollution reached “severe” levels on Sunday, with the air quality index (AQI) above 407 at 4 p.m. local time (1030GMT).
An AQI reading between 201 and 300 is considered “poor,” followed by “very poor” from 301 to 400, and “severe” between 401 and 500.
Thick smog has engulfed New Delhi for the past couple of days, a persistent issue throughout the year in the world’s most polluted capital city that only gets worse in the winter.
Primary schools were shut down last month but have since been reopened.
New Delhi’s air pollution also figured in political parties’ campaigns for the civic body polls that were held on Sunday.
Apart from the ban on non-essential construction work, a special commission of the Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry also called for people to work from home and reduce the use of private vehicles.
“Choose a cleaner commute – share a ride to work or use public transport or walk or cycle,” read a statement, adding that “people, whose positions allow working from home, may work from home.”
It also cautioned against the use of coal or wood for heating.
“The commission is closely watching the situation and will review the air quality scenario accordingly,” the statement said.
According to global environmental group Greenpeace, New Delhi has been the most polluted capital city in the world for the past four consecutive years.
The issue is not just limited to the Indian capital, as a study published in the Lancet Planetary Health journal revealed that pollution caused more than 2.3 million premature deaths throughout the country in 2019.