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Delhi air quality remains 'critical' for sixth consecutive day

For the sixth consecutive day, the air quality in Delhi remains under "severe" category on Saturday morning. According to System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), the major pollutant PM 2.5 recorded in Delhi was at 435 mark in the morning around 10 am, which falls under the 'critical' category.

Moreover, due to this alarming rise in pollution, the Supreme Court-mandated pollution control body EPCA, on Friday, declared a public health emergency in Delhi-NCR and banning construction activity till November 5.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) task force convened a meeting to enforce the ban on all construction activities till November 5 and also ordered the closure of coal-based industries (except power plants) in NCR.

The EPCA Chairman Bhure Lal also asked chief secretaries of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh to take immediate stringent action to stop stubble-burning in Punjab and Haryana.

Air quality monitoring agency, SAFAR said that the share of stubble burning in Delhi's pollution rose to 46 per cent on Friday due to farm fires in Haryana and Punjab.

"A slight improvement in AQI is expected by tomorrow but in the same severe category. By November 3, significant improvement in air quality to the upper end of very poor is expected and by November 4 further improvement to the very poor category is expected," the SAFAR added.

With poor air quality prevailing in Delhi for past one week, there has been a rise in the number of patients visiting out-patient departments (OPDs) or emergencies with respiratory or cardiac-related problems as well.

Air pollution has aggravated the condition of those having pre-existing health issues such as asthma, pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases.

Doctors at several private hospitals also reported around 25-30 per cent rise in footfall of patients at the OPDs and emergencies.

"The percentage of people who are complaining of respiratory ailments have majorly increased to about 20 per cent. Our routine patients, on the other hand, are cancelling their regular visits so as to avoid outdoor pollution," Dr Rajesh Chawla, senior consultant, Respiratory medicine at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital said.

Meanwhile, Arvind Kejriwal -led Delhi government on Friday decided to shut all schools in the wake of a spike in pollution level. In a tweet, Kejriwal said Delhi has turned into a "gas chamber" due to smoke arising out of crop burning in Punjab and Haryana.

He said the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Punjab CM Amarinder Singh were forcing their farmers to indulge in stubble burning causing a spike in pollution in Delhi.

Thereafter, Kejriwal urged school-going children to write letters to chief ministers of the two states requesting them to control the burning of crop-residue.

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