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Announcing a slew of “emergency” measures in the wake of alarming pollution levels in the Capital and a thick smog cover, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday ordered closure of all schools in Delhi until Wednesday, shutdown of the Badarpur power plant for ten days, a halt on all construction and demolition works for five days. Officials have been asked to consider the return of the odd-even traffic plan and explore the possibility of cloud seeding for artificial rain.
The measures were announced after the Delhi cabinet met Sunday, a day after Kejriwal met Union Environment Minister Anil Madhav Dave. The Chief Minister appealed to the people to stay indoors and, if possible, work from home for the time being. “Due to deteriorating air quality in the city, it has been decided that all government schools, aided, unaided recognised, NDMC, cantonment board schools will remain closed from November 7 to November 9,” an order issued by the Delhi education department stated.
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Other than closure of schools, Kejriwal asked different departments to prepare for the return of the odd-even road rationing scheme. The option of inducing artificial rain with assistance from the Centre, the Chief Minister said, was also being explored by his government. “Committee with chief secretary and environment secretary will talk to the Centre for artificial rain to settle dust,” he said.
All construction and demolition activities have been prohibited for five days starting Monday. Use of diesel gensets has also been banned for the next five days. “This does not, however, apply to emergency services like hospitals and mobile towers,” Kejriwal said. He said the Badarpur power plant will be shut for ten days excluding Sunday. The plant, he said, generates fly ash which is transported by the NHAI for its projects. This fly ash is released in the air during transportation, he said, adding that water will now be sprinkled on the fly ash dump at the Badarpur plant.
He said his government has started sprinkling water on PWD roads from Sunday evening. Vacuum cleaning of 100-ft wide roads will start from November 10. Officers will be penalised if they fail to check burning of waste and leaves. The Chief Minister said a phone app will be launched Monday and if anyone reports burning of waste or leaves in his or her area, action will be taken against the officer concerned. “Environment department to launch an app immediately to enable the public to report cases of leave and garbage burning,” he said.
Meanwhile, the three municipal corporations have been directed to ensure that fires at landfill sites are immediately put out. “Advisories to be issued by health and environment departments,” Kejriwal ordered.