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Delhi may halt pvt cars next week if smog thickens: EPCA

Delhi may halt pvt cars next week if smog thickens: EPCA
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NEW DELHI: The use of private vehicles may be stopped in Delhi if air pollution, which has reached severe levels in recent days, gets worse, a senior environmental official said on Tuesday.

Toxic smog has started to envelop vast swathes of northern part of the country, including New Delhi, as it does each year when winter approaches and farmers burn off the residue of crops.

"Let us hope the air pollution situation in Delhi doesn't deteriorate, but if it turns out to be an emergency, we will have to stop the use of private transport," said Bhure Lal, chairman of the Environment Pollution Control Authority (EPCA). "There is a committee which will advise me on this."

EPCA, appointed by the Supreme Court, has already proposed halting construction, the use of diesel-run power generators, brick kilns and the burning of garbage between Nov. 1 and Nov. 10 when pollution levels are expected to rise.

The overall Air Quality Index (AQI) at 3 pm was 401, falling in the 'severe' category, the highest this season, Central Pollution Control Board officials said.

An AQI between 0 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'.

The Centre-run System of Air Quality Forecasting And Research (SAFAR) attributed the spike to "heavy stubble burning in the last 24 hours and calm winds".

About 28 per cent of pollution by PM2.5 (presence of particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres) on Tuesday was caused due to regional factors like stubble burning, SAFAR officials said.

Meanwhile, according to a WHO report, over one lakh children under five years of age died in India in 2016 due to exposure to toxic air.

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