India's capital chokes as pollution reaches record levels

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According to the officals, pollution levels have sharply spiked today as a thick haze engulfed the national capital, ahead of Diwali, due to high impact of stubble burning. Police department to strictly ensure that non-destined heavy-duty vehicles travel through eastern and western peripheral expressways.

"The ventilation index which allows dispersion (of pollutants) is extremely poor and it is expected that these conditions will prevail for the next two days", EPCA chairperson Bhure Lal said in a letter to Delhi Chief Secretary Vijay Kumar Dev.

A CPCB-led task force, during a meeting on Saturday, recommended minimising outdoor exposure for the next couple of days and avoiding the use of private vehicles.

These actions have been taken on the recommendations of the CPCB.

"We are preferring to stay at home due to pollution despite Christmas celebrations and a public holiday", said Amit Azad, a financial consultant.

According to SAFAR, the Air Quality Index (AQI) of the national capital was 423 - in the hazardous zone - as the minimum temperature was recorded at 5.6 degrees Celsius, two notches below the season's average.

The Odd-even rule in Delhi is part of the Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP), which measures the air pollution levels.

"We are definitely seeing an increase in the number of patients with respiratory problems", said Doctor Desh Deepak, at the government-run Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. Arvind Kejriwal has also stated that the government will make more than 3,000 eco-friendly buses operational soon while also encouraging the use of environmental-friendly modes of transportation.

The ventilation index is the speed at which pollutants can get dispersed.

After "severe" pollution was observed for four days in Delhi, the air quality in the national capital slightly improved Wednesday, but was still in the "very poor" category as weather conditions marginally favoured dispersion of pollutants, authorities said.

Delhi is ranked among the world's worst cities in air quality, after years of breakneck growth in auto sales and coal-fired power generation. Faridabad and Ghaziabad also recorded "severe" air quality and Gurgaon recorded "very poor" air quality, the data showed.

The "severe" quality of air was attributed to wind speed and other meteorological factors remaining "highly unfavourable" for dispersion of pollutants.

As per CPCB, AQI between 0-50 is considered "good", between 51-100 "satisfactory", between 101-200 "moderate", between 201-300 "poor", between 301-400 "very poor", and between 401-500 "severe" and beyond 500 is severe plus emergency.

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