On Sunday, the Indian capital announced a slew of measures to combat the crippling air pollution that has engulfed the city, including closing down schools, halting construction and ordering that all roads be doused with water to settle the dust

New Delhi, one of the world’s dirtiest cities, saw levels of PM2.5 – tiny particulate matter that can clog lungs – soar to over 900 micrograms per cubic meter on Saturday. That’s more than 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization and 15 times the Indian government’s norms. The severe weekend pollution followed a week of constant grey smog.

New Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, told reporters on Sunday – after an emergency meeting of his Cabinet – that schools would be shut for three days, and all construction and demolition activity halted for at least five days. He also said a coal-fuelled power plant on the edge of the city would be shut for 10 days.

The other measures announced include a 10-day ban on the use of all diesel-powered electricity generators, except at places such as hospitals and cell phone towers. Starting on Thursday, all major roads in the city will be vacuum cleaned once a week, the Chief Minister said.

A Delhi policeman stands guard at the war memorial India Gate engulfed in a thick smog in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. The Delhi government has ordered that all city schools be shut, construction activity halted and all roads be doused with water as crippling air pollution has engulfed the Indian capital. The city, one of the world's dirtiest, has seen the levels of PM2.5 soar to over 900 microgram per cubic meter on Saturday, more than 90 times the level considered safe by the World Health Organization and 15 times the Indian government's norms. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A Delhi policeman stands guard at the war memorial India Gate, engulfed in thick smog in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, November 6, 2016. The Delhi government has ordered that all city schools be shut, construction activity halted and all roads be doused with water as crippling air pollution has engulfed the Indian capital. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Fires also contributing to smog

Kejriwal added that a major contributor to New Delhi’s pollution is the crop fires in neighbouring states. At the start of every winter, farmers in the states of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh begin burning straw from their rice paddy crop to clear the fields for planting wheat.

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The Centre for Science and Environment, a New Delhi-based research and lobbying organization, said government data shows that the smog that has covered the city for the last week is the worst in 17 years.

Over the last few years, the New Delhi government has tried a handful of methods to control air pollution, including stricter emission norms for cars and a tax on diesel-fuelled trucks that enter the city. It has also barred the burning of leaves and garbage in the city.

Earlier this year, the city reduced the number of cars allowed on the roads during the winter months, when air quality is at its worst. Twice the city imposed a two-week period in which cars were allowed on the roads only on even or odd days, depending on the vehicle license plate number.

On Sunday, Kejriwal said that the government was assessing whether it needs to reduce the number of cars again.

A group of Indian women wear pollution masks arrive to a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years. The concentration of PM2.5, tiny particulate pollution that can clog lungs, averaged 12 times the government norm and a whopping 70 times the WHO standards. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
A group of Indian women wearing pollution masks arrive at a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, November 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Indians wear pollution masks and hold posters and banners protesting against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years. The concentration of PM2.5, tiny particulate pollution that can clog lungs, averaged 12 times the government norm and a whopping 70 times the WHO standards. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Indians wear pollution masks and hold posters and banners protesting against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, November 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
An Indian family arrives at a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. The Delhi government has ordered that all city schools be shut, construction activity halted and all roads be doused with water as crippling air pollution has engulfed the Indian capital.(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
An Indian family arrives at a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, on Sunday, November 6, 2016. The Delhi government has ordered that all city schools be shut, construction activity halted and all roads be doused with water as crippling air pollution has engulfed the Indian capital.(AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Indians wear pollution masks and hold posters and banners during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Indians wear pollution masks and hold posters and banners during a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, November 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Children wear pollution masks and participate in a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016. Even for a city considered one of the worlds dirtiest, the Indian capital hit a new low this week. Air so dirty you can taste and smell it; a gray haze that makes a gentle stroll a serious health hazard. According to one advocacy group, government data shows that the smog that enveloped the city midweek was the worst in the last 17 years. The concentration of PM2.5, tiny particulate pollution that can clog lungs, averaged 12 times the government norm and a whopping 70 times the WHO standards. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)
Children wear pollution masks and participate in a protest against air pollution in New Delhi, India, Sunday, November 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Manish Swarup)

Author: ANA Newswire