Authorities on Friday advised people to limit outdoor activities and told government and private offices to cut vehicle use by at least 30 per cent as air quality in Delhi-NCR inched towards the emergency level amid a rise in emissions from farm fires and unfavourable meteorological conditions.
Over 4,000 farm fires, accounting for 35 per cent of Delhi's pollution on Friday, played a major role in pushing the 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) to 471 by 4 pm, the worst this season so far. It was 411 on Thursday.
A sub-committee on Graded Response Action Plan (GRAP) said meteorological conditions will be highly unfavourable for dispersion of pollutants till November 18 and agencies concerned must be fully ready to implement measures under 'emergency' category.
The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said the 24-hour average concentration of lung-damaging fine particles known as PM2.5 in Delhi-NCR crossed the 300 mark around midnight and stood at 381 micrograms per cubic metre at 4 pm on Friday, over six times the safe limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre.
The PM10 level was recorded at 577 micrograms per cubic metre, over five times the safe limit of 100 micrograms per cubic metre.
According to GRAP, the air quality is considered to be in the 'emergency' category if the PM2.5 and PM10 levels continue to be above 300 micrograms per cubic metre and 500 micrograms per cubic metre respectively for 48 hours or more.
After reviewing the situation, the sub-committee on GRAP said, "Government and private offices and other establishments are advised to reduce vehicle usage by at least 30 per cent (by working from home, carpooling, optimising field activities etc). People are advised to limit outdoor activities and minimise their exposure.”
"Concerned agencies must be in complete readiness for implementation of measures under 'emergency' category as per GRAP (Graded Response Action Plan)," an order issued by the committee read.