New Delhi, Nov 6 (EFE).- The Indian capital tightened measures to curb air pollution on Monday as the city remained covered in a thick layer of hazardous smog.
Starting Nov. 13, after the end of the Diwali holiday, a major Hindu festival celebrated with fireworks, the capital will reduce traffic on roads by half by allowing alternate movement of even-numbered vehicles on one day and odd-numbered vehicles the next, Delhi Environment Minister Gopal Rai said.
The measure, implemented every year when air quality worsens, will be in force for a week amid a “dangerous” pollution level on the Air Quality Index (AQI).
The government also extended the closure of schools up to Class 9 from Monday until the end of the week and has restricted all construction works in the city.
The tightening of measures comes after the government suspended non-essential construction activities and the entry of diesel trucks last week, as part of a graded response action plan, a set of guidelines to combat air pollution, which experts term ineffective.
Despite the measures, the concentration of PM 2.5 particles, the most harmful to humans, reached 417 per cubic meter of air on Monday, according to the Central Pollution Control Bureau (CPCB).
The pollution levels are higher than the World Health Organization’s safe limits.
The WHO recommends that annual average PM2.5 concentrations not exceed five micrograms per cubic meter of air and that 24-hour average exposures not exceed 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air more than 3-4 days per year.
The alarming deterioration of the air quality is a grim annual occurrence in this season in north India due to several factors, including the arrival of winter, a decrease in wind speed, which prevents the dispersion of polluting particles, and the burning of agricultural waste in the neighboring states. EFE