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To prevent further worsening of air quality from ‘very poor’ to ‘severe’, the Delhi government is planning publicity and outreach programmes to encourage use of public transport. It has approached the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) to expand the frequency of service. It also plans to increase the service of the Delhi Transport Corporation, which is its own agency.
Officials rule out re-introduction of the earlier experiments with partial bans on vehicle plying. Under two phases of the scheme in 2016, private vehicles were allowed to run on alternate days, based on whether they had odd or even registration numbers.
According to data from the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), the air quality index on Friday indicated Delhi’s level was in the ‘very severe’ category.
Diwali apart, there has been crop burning in adjacent Punjab and Haryana. According to Sudhakar A, member-secretary of CPCB, the air quality was definitely better than last year, when the air index was as high as 450. “From tomorrow (Saturday), we are expecting cool north-westerly winds, which would lead to dispersion of pollutants and this will improve the situation.” The government would also ask brick kilns to stop production, in the first phase of the plan to check pollution levels. As for an alternative to diesel generating sets, “the government will urge the public to take temporary connections from the power distribution companies, if need be during festive and wedding ceremonies, etc,” said a senior Delhi government official.
“The second part of our plan is to monitor if the air quality worsens to severe levels. If that happens, we would stop the coal and firewood used in restaurants and use of petrol and furnace oil by some industrial units,” said Sudhakar.