The Delhi government on Sunday extended the ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items into the city and work from home for its employees till November 26, to combat air pollution and minimise its health effects.

Though the order issued by the environment department did not make it clear if the curbs on construction and demolition activities will continue, a senior official said the ban has been lifted.

According to the directions of the Commission for Air Quality Management (CAQM), schools and colleges will remain closed till further orders, he said.

Weather conditions may turn hostile over West Bengal, worsen pollution

A senior Central government official said the CAQM will hold a review meeting on November 23.

“Keeping in view the very poor air quality forecast and that vehicular pollution will cause extensive air pollution and release harmful air pollutants, particularly when the air quality is very poor, it is felt that there is a need for further extension of the curbs on vehicular movement in Delhi,” the order issued by the environment department said.

“Stop entry of trucks in Delhi except the trucks carrying essential commodities till November 26, subject to further review for an extension of this date,” it added.

“All offices of GNCT of Delhi/autonomous bodies/corporations shall remain closed till November 26 except those involved in essential and emergency services.... However, all the officers/officials shall work from home,” the order said.

Getting to the root of Delhi’s air pollution

Following orders from the CAQM, the Delhi government had, on Wednesday, issued 10 directions, including a ban on the entry of trucks carrying non-essential items into the city and a closure of schools and colleges, till further orders.

It had also banned construction and demolition activities in the city and ordered its employees to work from home till Sunday (November 21).

Emergency meeting

The commission had held an emergency meeting on Tuesday with senior officials of Delhi and the NCR States of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, ahead of a Supreme Court hearing on air pollution in the region.

According to the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology’s Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, the air quality is likely to remain in the “poor to moderate” category on Monday and Tuesday.

The air quality for the subsequent five days is also likely to remain in the “poor to the lower end of the very poor category”, it said.

On Sunday, winds gusting up to 20 km per hour barrelled through the city, dispersing pollutants partially and improving visibility.

Quality score

The city recorded its 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) at 349, down from 374 on Saturday. Neighbouring Faridabad (377), Ghaziabad (319), Gurugram (364) and Noida (322) also recorded air quality in the ‘very poor’ category.

An AQI between zero and 50 is considered ‘good’, 51 and 100 ‘satisfactory’, 101 and 200 ‘moderate’, 201 and 300 ‘poor’, 301 and 400 ‘very poor’, and 401 and 500 ‘severe’.

R K Jenamani, a senior scientist at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), said the wind speed reached up to 20 kmph during the day, improving visibility from 800 metre in the morning to the range of 2,200 to 3,000 metre at the Indira Gandhi International Airport and the Safdarjung Airport.

Winds gusting up to 30 km per hour are likely on Monday, the IMD said.