New Delhi | As pollution levels worsened in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal today said schools in the city will remain closed till Wednesday and announced a raft of “emergency” measures to deal with the situation including ban on construction and demolition activities for next five days and temporary closure of Badarpur Power Plant.
Emerging from an emergency cabinet meet, Kejriwal said the government will discuss with the Centre the possibility of engineering artificial rain in the city that has turned into a “gas chamber” mainly due to large-scale crop burning in Haryana and Punjab.
The AAP government was also mulling the possibility of bringing back the odd-even scheme.
The Chief Minister also appealed to people to stay indoors and if possible work from home considering the situation.
He said all construction and demolition work in the city will banned for five days and water will be sprinkled on roads to deal with dust pollution, adding strict action will be taken against those found burning garbage.
“Schools will be closed for the next three days. Health department will issue the first pollution advisory tomorrow.
We also appeal to people to stay indoors and work from home, if possible. We are also starting the preparation for odd-even. We will make an assessment in the next few days and implement it, if need be,” he told reporters at his residence.
The Chief Minister said the Cabinet had received a proposal to go for artificial rain through cloud seeding. “We have asked the Chief Secretary and the Environment Secretary to work with the Centre and assess its possibility and effectiveness,” he said.
Yesterday, Kejriwal had met Union Environment Minister Anil Dave and discussed series of measures to deal with the alarming air pollution.
Dave has called an emergency meeting of environment ministers of Delhi and neighbouring states tomorrow.
The Badarpur Thermal Power Plant (coal-based), one of the major sources of pollution in the city as identified by an IIT Kanpur study, will be shut for the next ten days, the CM said.
The facility was completely shut last year as well but later made partially functional.
The other measures announced by Kejriwal include sprinkling of water on roads on a large scale from tomorrow, strict enforcement of ban on burning of leaves (and waste) in the open and a promise to begin vacuum cleaning of roads from November 10.
“All DG sets, except those used in emergency services in hospitals and mobile towers, will not be allowed for the next ten days. All PWD roads, wider than 100 feet, will be vacuum cleaned at least once a week from November 10. And an app will be launched on burning of leaves tomorrow,” Kejriwal said.
He said power connections will be provided even in unauthorised colonies to tackle the menace of DG sets. Power connection does not mean regularisation though, he said.
He said local sanitary inspectors will be taken to task if there are instances of waste burning in the open. The MCDs have been informed to take measures to douse fires in the landfill sites, he said.
Kejriwal stressed on the need to hammer out solutions together.
He also said that the extent of crop burning was way above than what was seen over the last few years.
“Government is not unprepared. No one thought crop burning will be of this scale and weather conditions are also inclement. Delhi was polluted from the beginning so the extra pollutants aggravated the situation,” he said.
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